Palatine votes to allow marijuana businesses in town
Palatine village council members Monday night voted to allow marijuana retailers in the town.
Recreational pot use by those 21 and older becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Towns can't outlaw its use, but they are allowed to prohibit businesses that sell it or restrict their location.
Mayor Jim Schwantz said the village was "boxed into a really bad law" and that no one on the council is endorsing marijuana use. Business will need a special use permit and can operate only in certain business districts such as the North Rand Road corridor or manufacturing areas.
"It's an unfortunate situation," Schwantz said. "I hate that we're in this situation."
Village council members also approved a maximum 3% local tax on pot sales allowed in the village. The village also received confirmation its local 1% food and beverage tax would apply to baked goods, candies, drinks and other prepared offerings with weed in them.
About 140 people who filled the village council chambers represented both sides of the issue Monday evening. Many of those in favor of the marijuana sales donned green T-shirts emblazoned with "Opt In," while several opponents wore white "Opt Out" tees.
Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said projections indicate legal use of recreational marijuana could increase annual police costs by $179,800. The costs would be from more DUI arrests for drivers suspected of having used pot.
Ottesen said one marijuana dispensary could produce $200,000 to $400,000 in annual sales taxes. In addition to offsetting the increased police costs, he said, the sales taxes could help fund a social worker specializing in substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as capital projects and other nonoperational expenses.
Roughly 40 speakers gave their opinions on the marijuana issue to the village council. Similar to previous meetings, those in favor of allowing the pot retailers cited the potential for additional sales tax revenue.
"Palatine has an opportunity to keep sales tax dollars in its village," said James Dittrich, a lifelong village resident and zoning board of appeals member.
Opponents reiterated concerns that weed businesses would lead to declining property values, harm children and be an improper revenue source. Resident Vicky Wilson cited several suburbs that have exercised local control by opting out and asked Palatine to do the same.
"All I'm hearing about is the money, money, money," Wilson said. Village boards in neighboring Deer Park and Long Grove have voted against allowing marijuana businesses. However, elected officials in the border community of Rolling Meadows this month voted to allow one business to sell recreational marijuana in the city -- the existing medical marijuana dispensary in town.