Rezoning would allow pot dispensary near West Chicago

DuPage County Board expected to vote Tuesday

  • Kerry Farms owner Joe Sheehan is asking county board members to rezone 5 acres of a 22-acre hemp and honey farm off Roosevelt Road, which would allow a cannabis dispensary. The proposal has drawn objections from leaders in West Chicago and Winfield.

      Kerry Farms owner Joe Sheehan is asking county board members to rezone 5 acres of a 22-acre hemp and honey farm off Roosevelt Road, which would allow a cannabis dispensary. The proposal has drawn objections from leaders in West Chicago and Winfield. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Kerry Farms owner Joe Sheehan wants to transform the front 5 acres of the 22-acre farm into a retail development that could include DuPage County's first social equity cannabis dispensary. Here he holds a rendering of the business project, which would front Roosevelt Road, while standing near some bee boxes on the property.

      Kerry Farms owner Joe Sheehan wants to transform the front 5 acres of the 22-acre farm into a retail development that could include DuPage County's first social equity cannabis dispensary. Here he holds a rendering of the business project, which would front Roosevelt Road, while standing near some bee boxes on the property. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/22/2023 10:18 PM

Joe Sheehan hopes to add retail, and a possible cannabis dispensary, to his hemp and honey farm near West Chicago.

DuPage County Board members Tuesday are expected to vote on Sheehan's request to rezone 5 acres of his family's 22-acre farm on Roosevelt Road, about a mile west of Winfield Road. His request would change the zoning from residential to business.

 

Sheehan's request comes three months after county board members approved zoning code changes to permit recreational cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas.

His proposal has sparked criticism from the officials in West Chicago and Winfield. Both towns filed objections to the proposal, which will now need a supermajority, or 14 county board members, to win approval.

"I'd like to see this proposal go forward," said Sheila Rutledge, a Warrenville Democrat whose county board district includes West Chicago.

While there are entrances to subdivisions off Roosevelt Road, Rutledge and others noted property fronting Roosevelt Road tends to support commercial development.

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"I think it's a good location to do it," Rutledge said. "Mr. Sheehan has a wonderful vision for the property."

The county's zoning board of appeals voted against Sheehan's rezoning request.

The county board's development committee backed the proposal, but two committee members voted against the rezoning, indicating Sheehan may face an uphill battle Tuesday in getting the 14 votes needed.

Sheehan said the dispensary would be a logical addition to Kerry Farms, a hemp and bee farm on his family's property. He added he has been working with a dispensary licensee with the hopes of locating the first social equity dispensary in DuPage County. Sheehan declined to identify who holds the dispensary license.

The prospect of a dispensary off Roosevelt Road has drawn objections from nearby homeowners who have cited concerns about property values, noise and light pollution, and other issues. Others said they did not want a dispensary near their homes and suggested Sheehan could find other suitable locations along Roosevelt Road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Although some neighbors expressed concern about on-site use, Sheehan said he is not planning that.

Following Tuesday's development committee meeting, Rutledge noted the only question before the board is if the requested zoning fits with the property -- not whether a dispensary would be an acceptable tenant of a commercial development.

"That is our only task," she said.

West Chicago filed a formal objection, arguing a zoning change would violate a 2005 pre-annexation agreement. Though the property remains unincorporated, Kerry Farms is part of more than 38 acres whose owners agreed to annex into West Chicago once other neighboring properties developed and annexed into the city.

According to the pre-annexation agreement, the property would remain zoned estate residential for homes on larger lots.

In a letter to the county board, an attorney for West Chicago vowed that the city would "take all action to protect its rights."

County officials, however, have said the pre-annexation agreement does not impede the county board.

"It's our opinion that this is an agreement between two parties, and it has no bearing on the county's ability to vote (the rezoning request) up or down," said Paul Hoss, the county's planning and zoning director.

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