City to vote on cannabis zoning regulations

Adult Man Buying Cannabis Buds at Small Cannabis Store.

DeKALB­­ — The DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission voted in favor of proposed cannabis zoning regulations during the Oct. 9 meeting.

The regulations will be voted on by the City Council at a later date.

This comes after City Council members expressed support for allowing dispensaries into DeKalb.

Dispensaries are a type of regulated business that sells cannabis and cannabis-infused products, cannabis seeds and paraphernalia to the general public and qualified medical cannabis patients, according to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

Dispensaries are currently the only type of cannabis business the proposed regulations permit.

“In the future, we can take a look at the other types of cannabis businesses and how other communities are dealing with them. But at this time, we just wanted to deal with the dispensaries,” Principal Planner Dan Olson said during the meeting.

Five dispensaries would be allowed in the city and would have to be 1,500 feet apart from each other, according to the proposal.

Dispensaries would also have to be 250 feet away from daycares, homes and schools.

Applications for dispensary licenses will be accepted Dec. 10 through Jan. 2, Olson said. By May, three licenses will be issued among 10 counties of North Central and Northwest Illinois, DeKalb included, he said.

The proposed regulations restricts cannabis establishments to the following areas: Light Commercial, General Commercial and Light Industrial Zoning Districts.

The commission will hear a rezoning petition Oct. 23 from BQ Enterprises, Inc. for 3,600 square feet of space at 700 Peace Road, according to public documents.

The petition asks to rezone the area to allow for a medical dispensary and eventually a recreational dispensary if the company gets state approval.

DeKalb residents expressed their thoughts during the meeting’s public hearing.

Don Hawkins, owner of Competitive Edge, 700 N. Peace Road Suite A, occupies the building that BQ Enterprises, Inc. is eyeing.

He said that he had concerns about the regulations being too restrictive.

“I understand their concern with regards to learning from others’ mistakes, but I feel that there’s a time essence here for the opportunity for people to get into this business to be able to be successful,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he’d be interested in being a craft grower, a type of cannabis business that is prohibited by the proposed regulations.

Craft growers cultivate, dry, cure and package cannabis for sale at a dispensary. The grower is typically restricted to 5,000 square feet of enclosed space, but a maximum of 14,000 square feet is permissible if authorized by the Department of Agriculture, according to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

“DeKalb county is an agricultural county,” Hawkins said. “To omit craft growers, I think, would be very bad for the community.”

Resident Mark Robinson questioned zoning restrictions that would prohibit cannabis establishments in the Central Business District. He said that the restrictions may send the wrong message.  

“We’re treating it like it’s something that we don’t want as opposed to bringing it in to the central part of our culture,’’ Robinson said.  

Ron Klein, the only Commissioner to vote against the proposed changes, said he is not in support of recreational marijuana.

“I don’t see the point of changing that law,” Klein said.  “I know that they are changing it, but I just cannot understand what the benefit of it is.”

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