East Dundee trustees express support, initiate zoning process for pot sales

East Dundee officials expressed support this week for allowing three types of recreational marijuana businesses in town - dispensaries, cultivation centers and cafes/lounges - when a new state law takes effect Jan. 1.

The next step will be figuring out where in the village those retail operations should take place and how they should be regulated. But ahead of that zoning process, Village President Lael Miller said he wants to make it clear that East Dundee is in favor of recreational marijuana sales.

"We need to be ready to start telling people about this ... so the public becomes aware that this is something we're actually for and trying to cultivate, as opposed to shutting the door," he said. "I think that's going to help us a lot in attracting these businesses."

Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, municipalities can't outlaw adult cannabis use or possession in their towns, but they can decide when, where and how many marijuana businesses are allowed to operate.

They also could choose to ban sales in their communities altogether - an option none of the trustees at Monday's meeting were interested in pursuing for East Dundee.

The village board is expected to discuss possible zoning options at its next meeting before sending the conversation to the planning and zoning commission. The advisory panel would hold a public hearing and recommend potential locations in the village for each type of marijuana business.

Commission members also would likely offer suggestions for special use conditions, such as the number of licenses allowed in the village, the distance from parks, schools and churches, and the hours of regulation, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. But the panel should not debate "the ethical and moral issues surrounding the use of cannabis itself," she said.

The village board will have final say on any zoning recommendation made by the commission. Any future marijuana business that wants to open in East Dundee would have to go through a separate approval process to obtain a special use permit, Miller said.

Trustees on Monday also unanimously approved implementing a 3% cannabis retailers' occupation tax, the maximum rate a municipality can impose under the state law.

The tax is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, 2020, though the Illinois Municipal League has requested a legislative change that would move up the date to coincide with the legalization of possession and sales. In that case, municipalities would have to pass an ordinance by Oct. 1 to start collecting the tax Jan. 1, 2020.

Trustee Scott Andresen questioned whether the village would be able to rebate a portion of those tax dollars as a way to entice marijuana businesses to the village. Attorney Gregory Smith said an economic incentive involving that revenue stream is likely allowed in a home-rule community such as East Dundee.

"We're going to be competing against a lot of other municipalities," Andresen said. "I want to make sure we remain competitive."

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