Elgin officials want rule change to lure marijuana dispensary downtown
There are no cannabis-related businesses in Elgin, but city officials hope to recruit a dispensary to the downtown with a rule change that received unanimous support from the planning and zoning commission this week.
Despite following the state's lead and legalizing dispensaries and cultivation centers during the past six years, Elgin has not lured any medical or recreational businesses.
There have been "a lot of inquiries," according to Mark Mylott, the city's director of community development. But restrictions about how close such a business can be to areas where children might gather has kept the most attractive locations, including the downtown, off-limits, he said. Mylott said a dispensary could be the catalyst the downtown needs.
"These dispensaries are attracting a lot of foot traffic, a lot of interest," he said. "We realized having a dispensary in downtown Elgin would be a great thing for the city, for the downtown community, for the existing businesses as well as downtown residents."
City officials want to exclude two "pocket parks" from the 250-foot distance requirement.
One is 1,220-square-foot Advocate Park at the southwest corner of Spring Street and East Chicago Avenue. The other is an unnamed park of 2,765 square feet at 67 South Grove Ave. Both feature benches and landscaping, but they lack playgrounds or other amenities that would draw children.
Mylott told the commission exempting those parks from the distance rules would "open up the core of downtown Elgin to possible dispensaries."
In reality, the city is unlikely to attract more than one dispensary.
For one, the city hasn't received any actual applications for a dispensary. And state law requires a minimum distance of 1,500 feet between any two dispensaries, making it unlikely more than one could fit in the downtown with the other distance requirements.
The city has received eight applications for craft growers and cannabis cultivation centers.
The wording of the proposed changes makes it so they apply only to the two downtown pocket parks.
The commission unanimously supported the change. The full city council must vote on the plan before any change is official.
If the city council approves the change, the 100 block of Chicago Street and the blocks along Grove Avenue and Spring Street, between DuPage Court and Fulton Street, would become eligible for a dispensary.