Bartlett to consider cannabis distribution in business parks

 
 
Updated 9/18/2019 9:28 AM

Bartlett officials will consider allowing two cannabis distribution facilities in industrial parks, but Village President Kevin Wallace said no decision will be made without more discussion.

The village board on Tuesday directed staff to draft ideas for allowing such facilities. "What's before (the board) is really the zoning question," Village Administrator Paula Schumacher said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Only one business has expressed interest in selling recreational cannabis in the village, planning and development services director Roberta Grill said, "and I've heard they sent things out to quite a few municipalities."

Wallace and others said they want to limit any such facilities to industrial parks.

"I can't fathom any business along (Route) 59, or downtown especially, that would want that smell or odor," Wallace said.

He said such facilities usually are in larger stand-alone buildings, but still will be a concern for the village.

"I think we're burying our heads in the sand if we think it's not going to be prevailing in the area," he said.

"If we do nothing," Trustee Michael Camerer said, "people are going to go to these other cities to purchase it and bring it back home."

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He said the village still would have to deal with issues such as traffic violations, but would collect no revenue from sales.

"We would have the potential downside but we would have no upside," he said.

The board initially discussed pursuing an advisory referendum question, but the timeline to get it on the April ballot is tight, Village Attorney Bryan Mraz said.

Trustee Aaron Reinke questioned whether the results would sway the board.

"Why would we invest staff time and energy when we've already made a decision?" Reinke said.

Wallace said many residents he's talked to are indifferent about cannabis sales, but "they'd really like to know if it will make a dent in what they're paying in taxes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They know it's coming," he said. "(They say), 'Why not get the $300,000 or $400,000 or whatever it is you're going to get from tax revenue.'"

Schumacher said it's hard to project revenues because "this is really bringing an industry that has been in the shadow out into the daylight."

But she said she's skeptical allowing sales will have a big impact on residents' taxes.

Schumacher said Bartlett is not a "first-tier community" because it doesn't have a medical dispensary and probably wouldn't be included in the first wave of licenses distributed in the state.

"That's nice because we get the luxury of seeing the impact of those licenses on those communities and what they experience," she said. "On the other hand, it would put a dent in the revenue we would be able to capture because we're the second tier."

The discussion began with the results of a study of the impact of cannabis distribution on similar communities done by village staff and Bartlett police.

Senior Planner Renee Hanlon said St. Charles, South Elgin and Aurora appear to be leaning toward allowing distribution, Naperville voted to prohibit cannabis sales and Sugar Grove conducted an email survey in which those who oppose the sales narrowly outpaced those in favor.

Staff looked at the Colorado city of Northglenn, a Denver suburb, with a population similar to Bartlett's, that has had recreational cannabis distribution since 2014. It has had "no issues with recreational cannabis businesses and has reaped both budgetary benefits as well as economic development benefits" with $600,000 added to the general budget, the report said.

The police department study of three Colorado communities found there were minimal problems due to the sale of recreational cannabis, according to the report.

Trustee Raymond Deyne said he came into the meeting opposed to recreational cannabis sales, but the discussion changed his mind.

"What we have now, with restrictions we're putting in and isolating it to the business parks, makes more sense," Deyne said.

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