Planner Jon Censky tells the Common Council – and a
packed room – that permits aren’t granted until after
Photo by Laurie Arendt
CEDARBURG — Following the
recommendation from Cedarburg’s Plan Commission, the Cedarburg
Common Council unanimously voted not to change the city’s existing
zoning code to allow CBD dispensaries in the downtown B-3 Central
“This is our historic district, this is where we protect it, not
engage in experiments,” said Council member Garan Chivinski after
nearly two hours of public comment on Monday night. “I have a
responsibility to that historic district; it is our bread and
butter, it is our heart.”
Though the council chambers were filled with a large contingent of
supporters who backed Erth Dispensary’s plan to open a location in
downtown Cedarburg, public comment was split about equally during
the hearing, which also included comments from Erth Dispensary owner
Jennifer Kawczynski and her attorney, Jeff Cormell.
“If she opened a store and sold hemp clothing by Patagonia and
happened to have an end cap with CBD on it, she’d be OK,” Cormell
told the council. “This is becoming pretty arbitrary here, and when
something is being determined in an arbitrary fashion, it’s called
Kawczynski said she had been transparent about her intentions from
the start, and had initially received a completely different message
from the city than she was now receiving.
“On March 8, I actually received a receipt that, on the top, said
‘Occupancy Permit,’ and a handwritten Post-it that said, ‘Call me
when you are ready to open,’” she said, noting that she had no
indication that there was an issue at that point based on the
response she received after mailing in her application.
City Planner Jon Censky explained that the city does not issue an
occupancy permit until after the building inspector and the fire
inspector visit the site, and because neither has been in the
building, no occupancy permit was ever issued for her intended
location at W61N510 Washington Ave.
“I have no idea what activity has taken place in her building,”
The matter was first brought before the city’s Plan Commission in
early May as a request to change the existing city code to allow CBD
dispensaries as either permitted or conditional uses. Prior to the
vote that recommended the request be denied, commissioners discussed
the possibility of changing the existing code to allow CBD
dispensaries in the B-2 commercial district, which primarily
comprises the south commercial district of Cedarburg and other small
pockets in the city. Based on that discussion, the city is now
considering a change to the B-2 district zoning.
“While I am grateful that change is being considered, it’s not what
we’re interested in,” said Kawczynski, who has signed a lease for
the building downtown.
Supporters of her request noted that CBD, which is short for
cannabidiol, a substance derived from hemp, was not the product that
many are making it out to be.
“Someone once referred to it as ‘diet marijuana,’” said State Sen.
Lena Taylor (DMilwaukee), who spoke on behalf of approving the
request and gave the Council both an update on state legislative
work on hemp as well as bottles of CBDinfused soda. “And in a way
that’s right: there’s no sugar in diet soda and there’s little to no
THC in CBD products.”
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the active ingredient in marijuana,
and is illegal in Wisconsin.
“Someone can lay in a field and smoke hemp all day and they won’t
get high,” Taylor said. “They may get a headache or something, but
they definitely won’t get high.”
However, Council members remained concerned by how intertwined CBD
and marijuana remain in the public’s mind.
Council member Rod Galbraith cited the fact that some residents saw
Kawczynski’s “opening soon sign,” which included what many perceived
as a marijuana leaves. He also noted her intended opening date of
4/20 and the fact that her mother was referred to as Grandma Bud in
Kawczynski said that the leaf on the sign is the same in their
company logo, and it is a hemp bud.
“That is my mother’s nickname,” she said. “And all of our employees
are referred to as ‘budtenders,’ but these are all in reference to
hemp, not marijuana. 4/20 is a national cannabis holiday.”
Council members were still not convinced of its appropriateness in
Cedarburg’s downtown historic district.
“Part of me says let’s let economics do its thing, but it’s not an
area to experiment with,” said Council Member Sherry Bublitz.
“People move to this area so they have a little piece of nirvana,
and part of that little piece of nirvana is our downtown.”
The Council also discussed the fact that while Kawczynski has been
transparent about her intent and had supplied a list of products she
would be selling, as well as discussion of what items sold in her
Bay View store that would not be available in Cedarburg, any
decision made would not just apply to her store but to any other CBD
dispensaries interested in opening in the B-3 district.
“The applicant doesn’t want to open a head shop, but can we prevent
that from happening (with others)?” asked Council member Jack
Arnett. “Zoning can be a pretty big hammer when sometimes all we
need is a scalpel. She runs a pretty decent operation, but there
could be other people who come in after her, and they would have the
right to come in.”
Ultimately, the Common Council unanimously agreed not to change the
ordinance for the B-3 district, but the discussion regarding a
change to the B2 district is still under consideration and will be
addressed at a later date.
City still considering CBD for
By Laurie Arendt
CEDARBURG — Though the Cedarburg Common
Council declined to allow CBD dispensaries in its
Central Business District at Monday night’s meeting, the
city is still working on a draft ordinance that could
offer an opportunity for CBD dispensaries to operate in
At last week’s Plan Commission meeting, commissioners
discussed a proposed ordinance that would allow CBD
dispensaries in the city’s B-2 district. This zoning is
primarily found in the city’s south business district
along Washington Avenue but there are also limited
pockets of it elsewhere within the city limits.
The proposed ordinance has not been approved and, in its
draft form, contains restrictive language and parameters
for operators, including the prohibition of:
■ Coil-based CBD vaping products.
■ Pet food containing CBD.
■ Dried cannabis flower buds.
■ Food products containing CBD, unless they become
approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
■ Paraphernalia associated with the smoke inhalation of
the dried hemp flower.
The ordinance would also require a dispensary to provide
up to four samples of products, up to four times a year,
for independent, third-party testing. These products
would be selected by the Cedarburg Police Department.
Additionally, sales to children under the age of 18
would be prohibited.
The ordinance also attempts to define a CBD dispensary
as one “where more than 50 percent of the product sales
or services are from or include products containing or
purporting to contain CBD and/or CBD related products.”
At the Plan Commission discussion last week, City
Attorney Mike Herbrand explained that Cedarburg is one
of the few municipalities attempting to codify the
presence of CBD dispensaries.
“We are really on the front edge of this product and
what might be coming,” he told the Plan Commission.
“Before you is a template. … our code is old and some of
the things on it are also antiquated. There is a viable
option, and perhaps that is to remove general
definitions and replace with something more specific.”
This was part of the argument used by Erth Dispensary’s
attorney at a previous meeting. He believed that the
business could fall into some of the existing categories
currently allowed in the city’s B-3 Central Business
District zoning, such as “variety store.”
Commissioners noted that there are certain nuances to
what they felt was an appropriate business for the
downtown district, even among existing and other
“There’s big difference between a tasting room and a
discount liquor store,” said Commissioner Kip Kinzel as
an example. “Or a vape shop vs. a Uhle’s (smoking
lounge). But how do we differentiate that?”
“But if we do this, we might end up with significant
restrictions,” said Commissioner Pat Thome.
That was also a point Jennifer Kawczynski, owner of Erth
Dispensary, made at the Common Council meeting Monday
night. While she made it clear that she was not
interested in opening her business in the city’s B-2
district, she did offer some constructive input to the
“It’s so restrictive,” she noted. “Any business trying
to open with these specific restrictions is going to
have problems. You already have stores downtown that
sell some of these products.”
While the proposed ordinance remained at the draft stage
and no recommendation was taken by the Plan Commission
this month, the discussion is expected to continue.