YORKVILLE – Discussions are continuing within Kendall County regarding zoning regulations for recreational marijuana sales as it will become legal state-wide in the next five months.
All five members of the County Board’s Planning, Building and Zoning committee were present for the Monday, Aug. 12 meeting at the Kendall County office building. Those committee members include chairman Matt Prochaska, vice-chairman Matt Kellogg, Elizabeth Flowers, Scott Gengler and Judy Gilmour.
Some points the committee took into consideration about the zoning ordinance included whether unincorporated parcels that are surrounded by municipalities, much like Yorkville or Lisbon, would be subject to county or municipal regulations for recreational marijuana. Those also included what licensing and permit application fees would look like for groweries, cultivation centers or dispensaries and what setbacks would look like from elementary or high schools, churches, residential areas or buildings, emergency rooms and forest preserves.
Prochaska said he is open to hearing every viewpoint possible regarding the county ordinance for recreational marijuana, including from the sheriff’s office. He said there are a lot of different moving parts to trying to get this county ordinance finished by Jan. 1, when the state law goes into effect, and he wants to hear anything that could be constructive to the process.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever been through [for zoning] since I’ve been on the county board,” Prochaska said. “This is something completely new and completely different.”
The update comes after committee members began the public discussions at the end of last month concerning what they would want to see in a recreational marijuana ordinance for unincorporated areas of the county. Those public discussions at the county level began after Illinois became the 11th state in the country to allow recreational marijuana in June after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law.
Pritzker also signed a bill into law on Friday, Aug. 9 that makes the state’s pilot medical marijuana program permanent.
Matthew Asselmeier, senior planner for Kendall County Planning, Building and Zoning, had said county staff is looking for direction from county officials about how restrictive or lax they want to make zoning regulations for the selling and purchase of recreational marijuana. He had said that would include whether the county wants to make it a special use or permitted use.
Asselmeier said the proposed unincorporated county zones for recreational marijuana possibly being allowed as a special use would include A-1 Agricultural, M-1 Limited Manufacturing and M-2 Heavy Industrial zoning districts. The original ordinance draft also included B-3 Highway Business as a district that could allow the special use.
Prochaska 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.
Kellogg said he’s not sure if he would agree with that approach, since there are many unoccupied strip mall spaces that could work for certain uses related to recreational marijuana. He said issues related to smell could also apply to non-marijuana businesses, including a spice or pet store, within a strip mall.
“Odor is different to everybody,” Kellogg said.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel, who was not at the Monday, Aug. 12 meeting, has said there will always be problems associated with recreational marijuana use that will happen regardless. He had 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.
Prochaska said the goal is for the committee to have a drafted ordinance that can be brought to the County Board by the board’s meeting scheduled for Sept. 17. He said that would give enough time for the county to make any adjustments to their ordinance, should elements of the state law change before it goes into effect.
Prochaska said he wanted members to make note of any ideas or other considerations regarding the ordinance and further discuss the matter at the next planning, building and zoning committee meeting.
Committee members voted for their next meeting to be scheduled for 8 a.m. Aug. 26 at the county office building, 111 W. Fox St.