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updated: 4/22/2014 5:55 PM

St. Charles zoning changes to provide space for medical marijuana

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A St. Charles-based real estate agent has a medical marijuana business client that might come to the city if zoning rules create a desirable location.

Aldermen will vote on those rules at the next full city council meeting, but early indications Monday show a begrudging willingness to accommodate a dispensary in the city.

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Aldermen reviewed new zoning regulations that would restrict all medical marijuana businesses to an industrial area that runs primarily along Kautz Road. Members of the city's plan commission wanted to also permit medical marijuana in the city's regional business zoning districts, opening a few other pockets on the east and west edges of town for dispensaries. But city staff members advised aldermen to ignore that recommendation.

That's not what Jace Murray wanted to hear. Murray is the president of Murray Commercial, a real estate firm located on Main Street in St. Charles. Murray pushed aldermen to not only accept the plan commission's recommendation but also allow for a dispensary in the city's BC zoning district. That district includes portions of Main Street outside of the downtown.

Murray told aldermen he has a "very experienced client in the real estate development arena in the Chicago area" who is interested in opening a dispensary.

"We've been looking for a location serving a dispensary municipal use," Murray said. "There are sites in (St. Charles) that could make a very strong case for a dispensary."

It might take a strong case to convince aldermen to actually allow a dispensary in town.

"Do we have to do this?" Alderman Ron Silkaitis asked. "Are we required to allow this in our city?"

Matthew O'Rourke, the city's economic development manager, told Silkaitis aldermen can't just blackball anything involving medical marijuana.

"This would be a similar use akin to an adult use," O'Rourke said. "You can't just say 'no' to it in general."

"Well, if we can't say 'no' then I would say put it where you are recommending we put it," Silkaitis said.

Murray did not immediately respond to an interview request Tuesday. Aldermen will take a final vote of the zoning rules in May. State officials must still finalize regulations for medical marijuana establishments before a dispensary would come to town.

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