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updated: 6/25/2014 5:28 AM

Kane County nearly ready for medical marijuana businesses

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Rules that would govern the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers in Kane County entered the final stages Tuesday. And though the odds of either type of marijuana business setting up shop in the county are small, county board members said having regulations in place now will be key in keeping a handle on local medical marijuana activity.

Draft rules are now only a couple of weeks away from becoming part of the Kane County zoning code. Both the county's zoning board of appeals and county board's Development Committee have now signed off on the guidelines. The full county board is set to vote on the rules next month.

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The county will treat medical marijuana businesses as interim special uses. Such a designation would require any marijuana business to fill out an application with the county, notify all property owners surrounding the proposed location of the business, go through a public hearing and win approval by the full county board. If approved, the zoning permit would last only four years before the county board would have to vote again to let the business continue to operate.

Development Committee Chairman Theresa Barreiro said she thinks it is "highly unlikely" Kane County will see either form of medical marijuana business. Only two dispensaries may operate in all of Kane County under state rules. And only one cultivation center may exist within the combined boundaries of Kane, DeKalb, DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties.

But fellow committee member Mike Donahue said he wouldn't be surprised to see a medical marijuana business find the county's lush farmland or attractive demographics to be a good home for such an enterprise.

"I don't know that it's all that unlikely that Kane County could be approached for a cultivation center," Donahue said. "I've heard some chatter out there. There are some people looking at Kane County. But with these rules, I think we're ahead of the game in the event a proposal would come forward.

The rules would govern only the unincorporated portions of the county. Several local municipalities have adopted their own rules. Many of the local versions restrict such businesses to the outskirts of towns or very narrow industrial sectors of the community. And many of those regulations have been reluctantly put in place by city councils and village boards aware that they can't outright ban such establishments from their communities.

Development Committee member T.R. Smith shared that sentiment Tuesday in casting his vote in favor of the new county regulations.

"I've been against it all along," Smith said. "There is no revenue potential for the county involved. It will actually cost us money in the long run. I'm just thinking about the law enforcement services involved."

The proposed rules will now head to the county board's Executive Committee and then on to the full board July 8.

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