CEDARBURG — Former mayor and
newly appointed Plan Commissioner Kip Kinzel succinctly summed up
the CBD debate at Monday night’s Plan Commission meeting. More
specifically, if allowing it in downtown Cedarburg was right for the
“Some people say it’s snake oil, some people say it’s a miracle
drug; the perception is probably somewhere in between,” he said.
“But perception is reality here.”
And the perception and protection of Cedarburg’s downtown was at the
forefront of the debate over whether petitioner Jennifer Kawczynski,
owner of Erth Dispensary, could have a CBD dispensary added as an
approved type of business in the B-3 district, which is Cedarburg’s
“There are 84 types of businesses listed in your ordinance,” said
Kawczynski’s attorney, Jeff Cormell. “‘Variety store’ leaves a lot
of discretion. A CBD store is more like a GNC … it’s a wellness
store that sells products that provide general health benefits.
There are also four other stores in Cedarburg that are already
selling CBD products.”
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a substance derived from hemp, which
is a member of the cannabis family. Marijuana is also part of this
family, but contains low levels of CBD and high levels of
tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound that produces psychoactive
effects. CBD contains minute to no amounts of THC.
“My client has been completely transparent about her intent,” added
Cormell, noting her frustration over the process and the fact that
she has already spent about $10,000 in preparing the former Glad
Rags location, W61 N510 Washington Ave., to open a second location.
“She could have come in and opened as a Scentsy or an antique store
and brought CBD in through the back door as part of the shop, but
He added that the perception of her business and the intent was
wrong. The store does not sell any illegal products and relies on
testing for each batch of CBD to show that it is legally able to be
“I get it; it’s confusing,” he said. “This is not marijuana culture,
it’s not black lights and hookah pipes. If people are after
marijuana – which is illegal – they have no problem getting it; they
won’t get it here and this is not the right product if that’s what
For her part, Kawczynski said that she felt she had been issued an
occupancy permit after contacting the city and that she had
initially been given the green light to proceed with her plans.
“It said ‘occupancy permit’ on it, and I was told at the time to
call back when I was ready to open,” she said. “I think there’s been
a huge misconception of our products and our family, and we would
leave a good footprint downtown.”
Kawczynski has actually already sold CBD products in Cedarburg as a
Maxwell Street Days vendor. She also has reserved festival space to
sell the products.
Feedback from city residents was mixed, though limited to a few
“Whether or not we already have it in Cedarburg is not the issue, as there
are already four different stores selling it,” said Allison
Caravella, a Cedarburg mother of three. “The issue is with having it
in downtown Cedarburg, where the kids go. It’s just not an
appropriate location, it’s not something I want to see front and
center when I come out of Sunday brunch with my family. I don’t want
to explain the difference (between hemp and marijuana) to my
“I’m listening to all these parents, my kids are grown and out of
the house,” said resident Jill Nehmer. “When they were in school, a
lot of the drug problems were narcotics, and while I’m sure some
were purchased in the streets, a lot were taken out of parents’
“Allowing children to go in medicine cabinets is not their problem,”
she said of Kawczynski’s business. “That’s our problem. This
building is already there, they’re just putting their name on it.
That’s all she’s asking for, to be a good part of this community.
It’s not going to be teenagers going in there, it’s going to be a
50-year-old with cancer, or their pets have cancer, going in there.”
Reaction from Plan Commissioners was also mixed. Commissioner Pat
Thome concurred with Caravella’s line of thinking about downtown
“This is where our kids congregate,” she said. “We know when there
is a half-day of school because the kids are downtown, which is
great. I’m concerned about this particular store in our downtown, of
the perception of our kids and their perspective.”
Mayor Mike O’Keefe, a recently retired police officer for the city
of Glendale, also addressed the gray area between CBD products and
marijuana culture, and referenced some of the products sold on Erth
“Smoking kits and ceramic bowls are things I’ve been pulling out of
cars for 29 years as drug paraphernalia,” he said. “Our historic
district is our bread and butter; it’s what separates us from other
communities. We are very protective of that.”
“As a police officer trying to decide whether someone has a hemp
flower or a marijuana flower, it’s a nightmare,” added Kinzel.
While the Bay View location of Erth Dispensary sells hemp buds or
flowers, Kawczynski said she has no intent to sell them in
Cedarburg, but commissioners also noted that didn’t preclude her
from adding them to the Cedarburg location at a later date. Her
attorney suggested that language could be added to the ordinance
that would provide parameters regarding this.
“We don’t go in and add a line to describe all the things someone
can sell,” said Thome. “That would be unusual; that’s not our
practice (for businesses).”
“The fact that CBD dispensary is not listed isn’t a surprise to
anyone,” said Commissioner Adam Voltz. “The zoning text was written
before this. … We could listen to the arguments for and against, but
hemp and CBD is legal in Wisconsin. If we’re trying to protect the
downtown, it will go elsewhere. I think in our position, we don’t
have anything to stop this from coming.”
City Planner Jon Censky also brought up the concept of possibly
directing Kawczynski to open in the city’s South Business District,
which is zoned B-2.
“But Jen has a building in B-3, in the downtown,” said her attorney.
“It’s not the question she’s bringing before your board.”
Ultimately, O’Keefe made a motion to deny the request, which was
seconded by Thome and passed with Voltz in opposition. Commissioners
Sig Strautmanis and Mark Burgoyne were absent.
O’Keefe also noted that though the Plan Commission has denied it,
the request will still be discussed at a public hearing and go
before the Common Council. The Plan Commission acts as an advisory
body to the Common Council, which can decide to take the
recommendation or not.
“I think this is a topic that is worth a lot more discussion,” said
Commissioner Heather Cain.
“I don’t like to kick the can down the road, but different people
have different opinions and we need to hear more of them,” agreed
A public hearing on the request is scheduled for Monday, June 10 at
7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers.
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