Elgin gives preliminary OK to recreational pot stores
The Elgin City Council has preliminarily approved regulations to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries in town.
They would be zoned like liquor stores, meaning they would require conditional-use permits in neighborhood business districts and area business districts -- they would not be allowed in residential business districts -- and in the center city district.
Additionally, dispensaries would require a 250-foot setback from schools, colleges, day care facilities, group homes, public parks and forest preserve land. Marijuana could not be consumed on premise at the dispensaries.
Cultivation centers, craft growers, and processing and transporting businesses also would require conditional-use permits and would be allowed in the general industrial district, and the office research and industrial district. They would require the same 250-foot setback that applies to marijuana stores.
Applications for conditional-use permits would have to include a security and lighting plan to be reviewed by the Elgin Police Department. After review by the planning and zoning commission, the city council would have ultimate say on approving permits.
"I think this puts Elgin in a very competitive position to be able to attract these types of businesses to our community, but it does that in a way that we have some say so," Councilwoman Tish Powell said.
The city's planning and zoning commission unanimously recommended approval of the regulations at its November meeting.
The city council's vote was 8-1, with Councilman Toby Shaw casting the only dissenting vote. Shaw said he believes legalized marijuana will bring more troubles than positives, and it would have been better to wait a few months to decide on the issue.
The use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and over will become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Municipalities can decide whether to allow marijuana stores in their towns, but cannot prohibit consumption of marijuana under the law.
Municipalities will get a per capita share of state tax revenues from marijuana, and also can decide to impose a maximum 3% local sales tax. The Elgin City Council will discuss that at its next meeting Dec. 18, when it is also expected to give final approval to marijuana store regulations. There are no estimates yet about how much tax revenues marijuana would bring to Elgin, city staff members said.
A total of 47 recreational cannabis licenses in the greater Chicago area will be approved by the state by May 1, and more later.
Councilman Terry Gavin said there's no guarantee any marijuana shops will actually come to Elgin. "Let's not start counting revenues we haven't even collected," he said.
Councilman Corey Dixon disagreed. "This is going to generate a significant amount of revenue. Not right away, but eventually, it will," he said.