YORKVILLE – With recreational marijuana becoming legal in Illinois in the next five months, Kendall County building and zoning committee officials discussed zoning regulations for it during their special meeting this week.
Matthew Asselmeier, senior planner for Kendall County Planning, Building and Zoning, said the agenda item was only for discussion during the meeting on Tuesday, July 30, at the Kendall County office building. He said county staff is looking for direction from committee and county board members about how restrictive or how lax they want to make zoning regulations for the selling and purchase of recreational marijuana.
“And the big thing overall, of course, is which zoning districts does the committee want this to be allowed and in what format,” Asselmeier said. “Is this special use or permitted use?”
Asselmeier had said the public discussion comes after internal talks about the county’s possible response to the state making recreational marijuana legal starting Jan. 1.
“It’s really discussion to metaphorically fly the kite to see what committee members’ opinions are on the matter,” Asselmeier had said.
The update comes after Illinois became the 11th state in the country to allow recreational marijuana after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law in June. Illinois adults ages 21 and older will be able to carry 30 grams, or slightly more than an ounce, of cannabis flower; up to a half-gram of THC – the chemical compound that gets users high – within cannabis-infused products, such as edibles; and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, such as hash oil. For visitors from outside the state, those possession amounts are cut in half.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel said he recommended for the county to have some sort of zoning regulations in place for recreational marijuana in the unincorporated parts of the county by Jan. 1, if possible.
“My understanding of the law is that, if someone were to want to attempt to get a license [to sell] through the state of Illinois, before they can apply for that license, they have to have local zoning wrapped up as part of the process or before they do it,” Koeppel said.
Koeppel said he also would advise the county to take a special use permit approach to zoning so they can have restrictions for the special use or add restrictions to it. That way, he said, the county could look at each proposal separately and judge them on their own merits or location, for example.
Koeppel said the zoning portion of the discussion is separate from the county deciding whether they should opt in or out of recreational marijuana sales.
Koeppel said there will always be problems associated with recreational marijuana use that will happen regardless. He said he would discourage the county from opting out because it would generate tax revenues to help protect people by offering training to the sheriff’s office and additional financial support for the health department.
Koeppel said the county could not regulate what municipalities do. However, he said, the county can tax the sale of it in the cities that are allowed to sell it.
“If they decide they’re going to sell it and Oswego gets a dispensary,” for example, Koeppel said, “the county can levy a tax on sales made in cities inside the county.”
As it stands currently, Asselmeier said, the proposed unincorporated county zoning regulations for recreational marijuana would include it being a special use and could be allowed in the following zones: A-1 Agricultural, B-3 Highway Business, M-1 Limited Manufacturing and M-2 Heavy Industrial Zoning Districts.
Committee member Matt Prochaska, who represents District 1, said he would prefer recreational marijuana groweries and dispensaries to be in stand-alone buildings as opposed to occupying space in a strip mall. He said other counties have faced odor-related issues with those types of businesses.
“We might as well learn from people that have already gone through this,” Prochaska said.
Committee members Elizabeth Flowers and Matt Kellogg, who represent District 2, left early from the Tuesday, July 30 meeting before the recreational marijuana agenda line item came up for discussion during the meeting at the Kendall County office building.
Prochaska said he wanted committee members to take a look at the packet material and further discuss the matter at the next planning, building and zoning committee meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the county office building, 111 W. Fox St.