Wauconda officials finalizing rules for marijuana businesses
In just a few weeks, the licensed sale of marijuana will be legal in Illinois -- and Wauconda officials are finalizing local rules for such businesses.
The village board on Tuesday will review the latest version of proposed zoning regulations for marijuana dispensaries and related businesses. A vote is expected Dec. 17.
The proposal has been in the works for months. The current version includes changes recommended last week by the village's plan commission that deal with zoning issues.
"We've worked hard over a half-dozen public meetings to make sure we do this in a way that benefits the village and still offers safeguards we think are important," said Trustee Tim Howe, a proponent of local regulations for the cannabis industry.
Among the most recent changes is a clause limiting the number of marijuana-related businesses in Wauconda to two dispensaries and up to four growers, processors, infusers or transporters.
Additionally, the plan commission expanded the list of businesses considered "incompatible" neighbors for marijuana dispensaries to include forest preserves and substance abuse treatment centers.
Schools, parks, churches and child care facilities already had been on the list. If the rules are approved, dispensaries won't be able to open within 500 feet of such locations.
If the plan is approved, entrepreneurs will need conditional use permits to open any marijuana-related businesses in town. Dispensaries will be limited to retail business or general business zones, and growing centers only will be allowed in the village's limited industrial and agricultural zones.
Operations for processing, infusing or transporting marijuana would be allowed only in limited industrial zones.
Trustee Jeff Sode called the proposed regulations "pretty solid." They'll prevent Wauconda from becoming inundated with dispensaries, growing centers or processing facilities, he said.
"There's only a couple spots to put (one)," Sode said.
The rules were drafted to coincide with the Jan. 1 implementation of a state law legalizing possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, by anyone 21 or older in Illinois. Growing, cultivating and sales facilities will be allowed, too, but only with state licenses.
Municipalities can allow such businesses to operate unfettered, regulate them with zoning rules or ban them.
Wauconda officials have received inquiries from people interested in opening dispensaries or growing facilities in town, Howe said. But that doesn't necessarily mean marijuana-related businesses are coming.
"There is a very robust state licensing process and a very limited number of licenses available," Howe said.
Tuesday's meeting is set for 7 p.m. at village hall, 101 N. Main St.