County Council Changes Cannabis Dispensary Rules | Local News

KANKAKEE – Members of the Kankakee County Board of Directors debated changing the county’s zoning requirements for cannabis dispensaries before approving an amendment that would allow facilities to apply to settle in agricultural areas of the county.

The text approved on Tuesday amends sections 121-99 and 121-209 of the county code with new wording that allows dispensaries to be placed closer to surrounding businesses and to operate outside and operate behind the wheel under circumstances. extraordinary, in addition to existing in agricultural areas.

Board chairman Andy Wheeler said the suggested changes were driven by the market.

“A distribution center is not going to be in the middle of nowhere in rural Kankakee County; they want smooth traffic, ”he said.

Previously, dispensaries could only apply for a special use permit to locate in commercial or industrial districts of Kankakee County, excluding municipalities with their own zoning rules. Most of the outside of the county is zoned for agricultural purposes.

“We have had few inquiries on some properties and would like to change the minimum setback from 2,500 feet, which is almost half a mile, to 1,500 feet, just over half a mile,” he said. said Delbert Skimerhorn, Kankakee County Planning Director. , when presenting the amendment.

The flip side dictates how far dispensaries should be removed from the property lines of nearby “schools, playgrounds, parks, religious establishments, community dwellings, penitentiaries and registered daycares”.

“I have no problem with the distribution of cannabis. However, I am very disturbed that it is closer to schools, churches, playgrounds and prisons, ”said Heather Bryan, who represents District 23.“ I think we have enough land in the county. to meet these needs without offense.

Wheeler described the changes as a “framework” and noted that interested clinics would still have to meet planning, zoning and agriculture committee criteria before being approved.

“I don’t think we need a cannabis distribution center in the county, so I will vote no for that,” said Roger Hess, District 1 representative.

Jake Collins, who represents District 13, argued that marijuana already has a strong presence in the county whether it is liked or not.

“We might as well put a great company on our tax roll and try to regulate it and integrate it as much as possible into our society,” he said. “These facilities are not places where people sell seals to children through the back door.”

Recreational marijuana sales in 2021 in Illinois reached $ 1.12 billion at the end of October, with more than $ 123 million sold in October alone.

Council voted 14-10 in favor of the amendment.

Todd Sirois, R-3; Stephen Liehr, R-28; Tinker Parker, R-5; Colton Ekhoff, R-2; John Fetherling, R-7; Aaron Dunnill, R-24; Chad Miller, R-25; Larry Kerkstra, D-21; Steven Hunter, D-17; Bryan, D-23, Collins, L-13; Matt Alexander-Hildebrand, R-16; Michael Gowler, R-12; and Wheeler were in favor of the changes.

Opponents were Hess, R-1, Patricia Polk, D-19, Robert Ellington-Snipes, D-18, Carol Webber, R-11, Janis Peters, R-8, Sam Payton, D-4, Raymond Fairfield, R -6, Antonio Carrico, R-22, Craig Long, R-9, and Kimberly Hudson, D-15.

Chris Tholen, R-10, Joseph Swanson, R-14, Erik Rayman, R-20, and Kenneth Smith, R-27, were absent.

In May, the board of directors voted 15-12 to overturn a 2020 decision banning cannabis dispensaries from setting up in unincorporated areas of the county.


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