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updated: 5/14/2014 5:34 PM

County takes next step toward medical marijuana zoning

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Kane County's odds of seeing a medical marijuana cultivation center or dispensaries within its borders are increasingly slim, according to a second draft of proposed state rules for the businesses. That's good news for county board members whose distaste for the new industry soured further Wednesday with news the county won't see any direct tax dollars from the establishments even if they come to the county.

Kane County's development department began formulating zoning regulations for medical marijuana businesses in December when the first inquiries began to come in about how welcoming the county might be to a cultivation center or dispensary. The new draft rules indicate Kane, DeKalb, DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties are eligible for just one cultivation center among them. And only two dispensaries could operate in all of Kane County.

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Despite those low odds, Development Director Mark VanKerkhoff told county board members interest in bringing such businesses to Kane County "has started to heat up a bit."

Because of that, he proposed defining both cultivation centers and dispensaries as interim special uses in the county's zoning code. Such a designation would require an application by any would-be business to the county, full notification of surrounding property owners, a public hearing and a vote by the full county board. Even if approved, the permit would sunset after four years. The county board would then have to vote on the business all over again if it wished to remain operating.

The questioning of any such business would likely be intense. Board members indicated Wednesday they would frown upon any such business, especially any outdoor cultivation center. Part of the animosity stems from an expected increase in regulatory and law enforcement costs the county will bear if it hosts such businesses. Board member T.R. Smith said he is particularly troubled by the idea of the county gaining little in return for being a host site.

"From what I understand, there can be no county revenue derived from either a dispensary center or cultivation center?" Smith asked VanKerkhoff.

"That's my understanding," VanKerkhoff replied. "My understanding is no one has found any revenue potential, not direct revenue."

In other words, county officials don't expect to receive any direct sales taxes from such businesses as they are medical uses. VanKerkhoff said any taxing body that figures out a way to cash in on medical marijuana businesses would be a template for all others to follow.

The county board's Development Committee approved VanKerkhoff's suggested zoning designations for medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas Wednesday. The full county board must still take a vote.

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