Des Plaines sets impact fee for pot dispensary

 
 
Updated 12/2/2014 12:17 PM
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Any business that wants to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Des Plaines -- and gets one of the coveted state licenses to do so -- will be required to pay an annual $15,000 impact fee to defray police-related costs.

Aldermen agreed unanimously Monday to impose the fee on any dispensary that operates within city limits, though so far, only one has expressed interest: Prime Wellness of Illinois, which is seeking a state license for 415 W. Touhy Ave.

Des Plaines is following the lead of other municipalities, such as Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village, that have asked proposed medical marijuana businesses to pay fees upon being awarded state licenses.

Des Plaines officials say additional police costs arising from any one proposed medical marijuana dispensary -- such as increased monitoring, patrol and law enforcement -- are estimated at $15,000 a year. The police chief and city manager plan to report to aldermen on the actual costs and recommend any adjustments to the impact fee after two years.

An attorney for Prime Wellness said after Monday's council meeting that his client is amenable to paying the impact fee, saying that Prime Wellness has been a "good civic citizen" in other states that it operates. But he also believes there would be little negative effect from the proposed dispensary because of comprehensive security plans his client has proposed.

In a separate vote, aldermen approved a conditional use permit for Prime Wellness, should it earn state approval.

At the council's Nov. 17 meeting, 8th Ward Alderman Mike Charewicz suggested delaying a vote on the conditional use until city officials took a closer look at impact fees. Charewicz said Monday the proposed $15,000 annual fee is reasonable because it would allow dispensaries to pay a smaller annual amount instead of a larger upfront payment.

"We get our money over time, rather than the petitioner coming up with $100,000," Charewicz said. "As the business grows, he'd be able to come up with $15,000."

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