YORKVILLE – Adult use marijuana related businesses will be be able to set up shop in certain areas of unincorporated Kendall County following a Kendall County Board vote this week.
The Kendall County Board approved overall zoning regulations, along with several specific text amendments, related to recreational marijuana zoning in the county during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19 in the county office building. Board member Elizabeth Flowers was absent from the meeting.
County Board member Matt Prochaska – who also chairs the county's planning, building and zoning committee – said, despite Kendall County not getting applications or official correspondence from any prospective adult use marijuana businesses, the county is one of the first, if not the first, to have adult use marijuana zoning officially taken care of within Illinois before the state law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
"We thought it was important to have something on the books by Jan. 1 to prevent what could be considered open zoning on that issue," Prochaska said.
The County Board voted, 5-4, to add recreational adult use and medical marijuana cultivation centers as a special use for the A-1 Agricultural zoning district. County Board members Judy Gilmour, Audra Hendrix, Matt Kellogg, Robyn Vickers and Amy Cesich voted in favor of the measure, whereas Scott Gengler, Tony Giles, Scott Gryder and Matt Prochaska voted against it.
Prochaska said the original concern of zoning officials was because the general feeling was that it was too intense of a use for that type of zoning district, considering state law requires security measures like the growing or production space to be completely enclosed.
Kellogg reiterated that it would be like how plants would be grown in a greenhouse. He also said there wouldn't be on-site consumption for this or any other cannabis use, and he wouldn't see how it would be much different from growing industrial hemp, which also would be grown in a similar area.
"This would just be allowed for growing plants," Kellogg said.
Matt Asselmeier, senior planner for Kendall County Planning, Building and Zoning, said in a Nov. 14 memo that dispensaries, among other marijuana-related businesses, also would be considered special uses within M-1 Limited Manufacturing and M-2 Heavy Industrial districts.
The County Board also voted, 7-2, to approve dispensaries and infuseries as special uses for the B-3 Business Highway, as long as the businesses were located 1,000 feet away from county and state highways and a interstate highway interchange. County Board members Gilmour and Giles voted against the measures.
Asselmeier said in the memo dispensaries cannot be located within 1,000 feet from schools, day cares, residential care homes, forest preserves, parks, libraries, arcades and parks. He said in the memo dispensaries also cannot be within 250 feet from residential property.
Hendrix said her concern for the 1,000 feet setbacks being too arbitrary or that a business coming back to county officials and pointing out that the county may not have decent legal footing on the matter if liquor stores or adult bookstores, for example, may not be subject to the same setbacks.
"It seems to me like that it's kind of an unfair application of that requirement," Hendrix said.
Prochaska said the rationale from the zoning side was to have more strict provisions to start, since it would be easier to relax them down the road as opposed to tighten them.
The County Board also voted, 9-0, to require dispensaries, infuseries and cultivation centers to be in stand-alone buildings.
Prochaska said the rationale for the amendment came at the suggestion of county associations from Colorado, Washington and Nevada "both for security reasons and for odor control reasons."
Hendrix said it wouldn't be that hard to accomplish the same security measures for sites that were not in their own stand-alone buildings.
"I have to say, I agree [on] the odor alone," Hendrix said.
Asselmeier said in the memo townships were notified of the appellate board's recommendation and that they have a right to formally object to the proposal, but none filed a formal objection.
However, Asselmeier said in the memo, Oswego Township officials requested no marijuana sales related businesses to be located in Boulder Hill. He said in the memo Kendall County officials requested adult use recreational marijuana to not be allowed in the B-3 Highway Business districts but they had no objection to medical marijuana businesses setting up shop there.
Gilmour said she voted against most of the measures because she’s been against the sale of recreational marijuana and having those types of businesses within the county from the beginning, referring back to her comments during a Wednesday, Aug. 12, county Law, Justice and Legislation Committee meeting.
Giles, who also is a teacher at Oswego East High School, has said he’s against legalizing recreational marijuana use in general, citing concerns about respiratory failure in kids as a result of vaping and THC products not helping the problem, and that approving adult use marijuana sales in the county would mean the county is endorsing that kind of behavior.
The update comes after the County Board approved an ordinance establishing a marijuana sales tax in the county during its Oct. 1 meeting. Under the ordinance, the county would receive a tax of 3.75% on all retail marijuana sales in unincorporated areas of Kendall County, with a 3% tax on sales made inside municipalities also going to the county in addition to municipal taxes.
A proposed ordinance that would prohibit adult use marijuana sales in unincorporated areas of the county previously died with the County Board’s Committee of the Whole during their meeting on Sept. 12.