South Elgin commission OK with pot shops in business areas
After a public hearing during which one person spoke against legalized marijuana, the South Elgin planning and zoning commission recommended allowing pot dispensaries only in business areas, with minimum distances from residences, schools, parks and more.
Commissioners voted 5-1 Wednesday night in favor of requiring marijuana dispensaries -- both medical and recreational -- to obtain special use permits and be located only in B1 neighborhood business districts and B2 community business districts. Those areas include Randall Road, the north end of La Fox Street (Route 31), the intersection of Spring Street and McLean Boulevard, and a few other small pockets.
Cannabis cultivation centers, craft growers, infusers, processors and transporters would only be allowed in industrial areas.
Dispensaries would have to be located a minimum 250 feet from schools, libraries, parks, day care centers and state-licensed home day care centers. That was a requirement proposed by village staff members.
Additionally, planning and zoning commissioners recommended a minimum 100 feet between dispensaries and residential buildings. The idea of setting up a buffer for residences came from Commissioner Cynthia Tarka.
State law requires that dispensaries be located at least 1,500 feet from each other.
The "no" vote came from Commissioner Leo Metz, who said, "I know the state said this is a legal thing now, but that doesn't make it right."
Resident Graydon Hauser said legalized marijuana will burden law enforcement and hospitals, and the state's decision to legalize marijuana was a "tactical short-term gain in revenue for a strategic long-term decline in our quality of life."
Commission Chairman Brian Carlson pointed out that obtaining a special use permit "is a pretty rigorous process" that includes demonstrating there is no negative impact on nearby areas.
The South Elgin commission also recommended prohibiting so-called "marijuana lounges."
Recreational marijuana use by people ages 21 and older will be legal starting Jan. 1. The state will award 75 dispensary licenses by May 1, with more to come later. Public consumption and driving under the influence of marijuana will continue to be illegal.
When applying for a special use permit in South Elgin, pot dispensaries would have to submit plans for security, odor control and any necessary destruction of inventory.
The final decision about regulations for dispensaries will be up to the village board, whose members said this summer they were open to allowing one marijuana shop in town. The village board is expected to take up the discussion no earlier than its Nov. 4 meeting.