UPDATED 6 A.M. THURSDAY, NOV. 14:
YORKVILLE – Though the Yorkville City Council has yet to decide whether they will allow adult use recreational cannabis sales within city limits, the council is also set to determine what zoning regulations would look like if those sales are allowed during their next meeting.
The Yorkville Planning and Zoning Commission voted, 5-1, to approve staff recommended city zoning regulations for recreational marijuana dispensaries, groweries, cultivation centers and infuseries following a public hearing at their meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Commissioner Don Marcum voted against the measure and commissioner Deb Horaz was absent from the meeting.
Krysti Barksdale-Noble, community development director for Yorkville, said the proposed regulations are meant to build the city's already existing zoning ordinance for medicinal cannabis. She said the zoning ordinance for medicinal marijuana businesses, which was approved in 2014, says those dispensaries having to be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and places of worship and cultivation centers have to be no closer than 2,500 feet.
"We felt that these regulations were appropriate at the time and we have not addressed them since, but the current zoning ordinance does not address recreational cannabis businesses that have been, by state statute, allowed in municipalities throughout Illinois that go into effect Jan. 1," Barksdale-Noble said.
The vote on the revised proposed setbacks for adult use cannabis business establishments comes after the City Council last talked about the proposed zoning regulations during its Oct. 9 meeting.
Barksdale-Noble said staff is recommending a setback of 500 feet from the property line for pre-existing schools, day care centers, residential care homes, public parks or religious institutions for recreational cannabis groweries, cultivation centers, dispensaries and infuseries. She said those types of businesses also could not be located with 250 feet of the property line of a pre-existing land zoned or used for residential purposes.
The proposed districts staff is recommending for special uses related to adult use cannabis include A-1 Agricultural for craft growing and cultivating, B-3 General Business for dispensing and infusing, and M-1 Limited Manufacturing and M-2 General Manufacturing for all three types of recreational cannabis businesses.
City documents said staff is also recommending limiting the number of those types of businesses to one per organization type. For example, there could only be one dispensary and one infusery within city limits at any given time.
Staff is also recommending prohibiting the consumption of recreational marijuana products on the premises of those types of businesses.
John Cooney, a developer in Yorkville and one of the owners of Roadhouse RTE 47 on the city's south side, said he has been approached by two separate businesses who would want to set up shop in one of his available spaces and state deadline to apply for a license, which requires secured locations, is Jan. 1. He said a zero lot line from residences would be a lot more accommodating for what he's hoping to accomplish with the prospective businesses.
Cooney said he thinks the issue of whether setbacks would have any effect on children and residential areas is relatively nonproblematic. He said a smaller setback would be similar to liquor stores, bars or tobacco stores, which are not subject to those types of setbacks but are not subject to as many security regulations as adult use cannabis businesses.
"It's going to be more secure than a bank," Cooney said.
No one spoke in opposition of the staff recommendations during the public hearing.
Commissioner Don Marcum said he's not a fan of local or state governments going against federal law, though he approves the rule prohibiting on-premises consumption. He said the strength of today's product versus what it was in the past also concerns him.
"[I'm a] big fan of business, big fan of revenue, [but] hate building revenue off of bad business," Marcum said.
Commissioner Greg Millen said he talked to some people impacted by driving under the influence for their opinions on the matter, since a common concern is people driving under the influence of marijuana. He said they responded by saying they would rather see it regulated because people would find it even more irresponsibly if it wasn't.
"I thought that was pretty impactful [coming from] one father who lost his son due to a drunk driver and one guy who got ran off the road by a pot smoker," Millen said.
Jeff Olson, chairman for the Yorkville planning and zoning commission, said he was on the fence about whether he'd personally want to have adult use cannabis sales be permitted within city limits. He said he's reassured about the security and quality control measures recreational cannabis businesses would have to adhere to, but he also shares moral and safety concerns about the sales being allowed in the city.
"I think we have to get these rules in place and let the City Council decide what they want to do," Olson said.
The update comes after the City Council voted, 7-0, during their Tuesday, Nov. 12 meeting to approve a resolution to change the city's employee manual to further clarify employees cannot work while under the influence or impaired, even if the alcohol or soon-to-be legal cannabis is used off-duty. Ward 2 Joe Plocher was absent from the Tuesday, Nov. 12 meeting.
The City Council will also consider what local enforcement will look like from a police perspective during their meeting later this month.
The matter will be up for a vote from the City Council during their meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road.