'Keep it out': Libertyville panel wants ban on pot sales

  • A Libertyville advisory panel has recommended against the sale of recreational marijuana in town. "In my mind, it really wasn't worth it," plan commission member Kurt Schultz said. The final decision will be up to the village board.

    A Libertyville advisory panel has recommended against the sale of recreational marijuana in town. "In my mind, it really wasn't worth it," plan commission member Kurt Schultz said. The final decision will be up to the village board. Associated Press file photo

 
 
Updated 9/24/2019 7:19 PM

Marijuana businesses, including retail shops, don't have a place in Libertyville, the village's plan commission unanimously recommended Monday.

Commissioners agreed with overriding public comment that allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in town could lead to more traffic deaths, injuries and crime; hurt the health of young people; and tarnish the family-friendly image Libertyville has cultivated over the years.

 

"Keep it out," Commissioner Walt Oakley said.

Libertyville is among many communities deciding whether to allow marijuana sellers or opt out before the use and sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1. Village leaders in neighboring Mundelein agreed Monday to move forward with plans to permit pot shops.

But Libertyville plan commissioners were not swayed by the potential tax revenue from those endeavors. Projections by Lake County indicate that with the allowable 3% special tax on sales, municipalities could receive an average $100,454 in revenue per store, according to information provided to commissioners. That would be reduced by $20,000 if the community did not have a 1% non-home rule sales tax, which Libertyville does not.

"It didn't seem to really generate that much revenue," said Commissioner Kurt Schultz. "In my mind, it really wasn't worth it."

The village board in July directed the plan commission to conduct hearings to gauge public sentiment and recommend whether any cannabis businesses, which includes processors, growers and others, should be allowed.

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The commission was asked to make recommendations on five questions: Should all or some cannabis businesses be prohibited; if allowed where should they be allowed to operate; if allowed in a given zoning district, should it be a permitted or special use; if allowed as a special use, what operating conditions should be imposed; and, if retail sales were approved should on premise consumption be prohibited.

The 6-0 "no" votes to the first and fifth questions Monday followed public comments during a public hearing that drew a standing-room-only turnout of about 150 to the Libertyville Civic Center.

The majority of about two dozen speakers, including some self-described millennials, opposed making recreational cannabis available for sale in town. Comments often were followed by enthusiastic applause.

"Don't sell our soul for a couple bucks," said resident Pat Kamins.

"What dark corner of Libertyville are you going to stick this where it won't affect somebody's family or somebody's children?" asked Judi Tanzer, who said she moved to town about 10 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tanzer said she had lived in Colorado Springs, where pot sales were legalized in 2014. She noted that during a return visit the downtown she remembered fondly had changed with the introduction of marijuana-related retail businesses.

Amanda McDonagh said she feared Libertyville would become a destination for buyers if marijuana sales were permitted.

"We can't keep drugs out of Libertyville, but we don't have to allow them to be sold here either," she said.

Third-generation resident Kyle Cashman said the arguments seemed like a "generational issue," noting sales and use are being allowed by state law.

"This is not going to hurt our home sales; this is not going to hurt our image," he said. "This is not Mayberry."

If recreational sales are allowed by the village board, the commission recommended 6-0 they be limited to industrial areas and require a special use. By a 4-2 vote, the commission recommended that if approved, shops be at least 1,000 feet from schools. Two commissioners wanted it to be greater distance.

The village board will make a final decision on the issue at an upcoming meeting.

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