DuPage County turns down Kerry Farms' zoning request for cannabis dispensary

DuPage County Board members Tuesday turned down a zoning request that would have allowed for a cannabis dispensary near West Chicago.

Board members voted 13-5 to deny the request to rezone five acres along Roosevelt Road, about a mile west of Winfield Road, from estate residential to business. The property is part of Kerry Farms, a hemp and honey farm.

Farm owner Joe Sheehan said he was disappointed in the vote and that he will be working with a dispensary license holder to locate one elsewhere in DuPage.

"We're working against the clock," Sheehan said, noting the license for a social equity dispensary expires this summer. "It would be ideal if I could get one down the street from the farm."

Sheehan had hoped to also sell the hemp and honey from the farm in the dispensary.

Sheehan's rezoning request faced stiff opposition from West Chicago officials, who Monday won a court order against Sheehan. The court order prevented Sheehan from speaking on the issue at Tuesday's meeting but did not prevent a vote from the county board.

West Chicago officials also filed a formal objection to the proposal with the county, forcing a supermajority, or 14 votes, to approve the zoning. Neighboring residents also voiced opposition and expressed concerns about property values, noise and light pollution. Others said they did not want a dispensary near their homes.

"There's plenty of business locations on Roosevelt Road this can go," said DuPage County Board member James Zay, a Carol Stream Republican whose district includes West Chicago. "We don't need to change the zoning to put another location here."

County board member Sheila Rutledge, however, argued the issue before the board was the zoning request, not the potential location of a dispensary on the property. The county board last year voted to change its zoning codes to allow for cannabis dispensaries.

West Chicago officials have argued a zoning change would violate a 2005 pre-annexation agreement. Though the 22-acre property remains unincorporated, Kerry Farms is part of more than 38 acres whose owners agreed to annex into West Chicago once contiguity was established. West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda said only a handful of lots remain to be developed in a neighboring subdivision before contiguity can be established. He anticipated the property could be annexed into West Chicago later this year or next year.

Pineda declined to comment about the board's vote or the city's next steps, noting the city's legal case against Sheehan is pending.

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