East Dundee panel wants to keep pot dispensaries away from downtown
An East Dundee advisory panel has recommended that all recreational marijuana operations be kept out of the downtown district, saying the use would be more appropriate in certain areas on the east side of town.
The planning and zoning commission voted 8-1 Wednesday to move forward with a proposed "overlay" zoning district east of Route 25 where cannabis dispensaries, cultivation centers and other related businesses would be allowed as a special use.
The panel's discussion came on the heels of a public hearing Wednesday, during which several representatives from the Immanuel Lutheran Church and School asked that marijuana shops be kept at least 1,500 feet away from their property at Van Buren and Main streets.
Other community members backed the request for a buffer between sensitive uses and marijuana businesses, which they suggested be prohibited from the downtown entirely.
"I'm concerned that the addition of a retail store designed for the sale of cannabis near our school will challenge the safety of our children," Immanuel Principal Sue Domeier said. "No amount of tax revenue or income is worth the risk."
The proposed overlay district would limit cannabis operations to properties east of, but not facing, Route 25. Within that area, dispensaries would be permitted on parcels zoned as a service business or limited manufacturing use. Cultivation centers would be restricted to the manufacturing areas.
That part of town contains various industrial properties and commercial shopping centers, including the shuttered Walmart and Dominick's stores.
If ultimately adopted by the village board, those parameters would exceed the 1,500-foot buffer requested by Immanuel Lutheran.
The panel's recommendation is more restrictive than a set of regulations proposed in December by village trustees, a majority of whom were OK with allowing dispensaries in the downtown and community business districts. Some said they'd prefer to keep zoning parameters flexible to remain competitive with other communities.
But most planning and zoning commission members said they took issue with having a marijuana shop downtown, where family-friendly events are held, parking is limited and foot traffic is abundant.
"There are too many things going on, too many residents down there enjoying and participating," Commissioner Sue Holliman said. "We don't want it all disrupted with the long lines of a dispensary."
Chairman John Brewer cast the lone "no" vote, saying he feels the overlay district is too restrictive to be adopted by the village board. He suggested the commission simply add a condition to the board's initial proposal requiring dispensaries to be 1,500 feet from a school or church.
The proposed ordinance also includes a requirement of at least one parking spot per 150 square feet of floor area, with a minimum of 20 spaces, designated specifically for the establishment.
All marijuana operations would be considered special uses, meaning applicants would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The village board will consider the panel's recommendation, along with some additional business regulations outside the zoning process, during an upcoming meeting.