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Maple Park trustees debate allowing marijuana dispensaries in village

Topic was discussed at Tuesday meeting

MAPLE PARK – While residents of the village of Maple Park will be able to possess and use recreational marijuana legally in Illinois effective
Jan. 1, whether or not they will be able to purchase it from the convenience of a local business has yet to be determined.

During the monthly board of trustees meeting Tuesday, trustees Brandon Harris, Chris Higgins and Jen Ward voted against an ordinance that would prohibit cannabis business establishments from coming to Maple Park, while Trustees JP Dries and Chris Rebone voted in favor of the ordinance which would not allow such businesses in the village.

Trustee Suzanne Fahnestock was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

The ordinance states that “the village has determined that the operation of cannabis business establishments would present adverse impacts upon the health, safety and welfare of the residents, and additional costs, burdens and impacts upon law enforcement and regulatory operations of the village.”

“While the outcome was not by consensus vote, it ultimately is what it is,” Rebone said. “It’s time for the board to regain collective focus on completing scheduled infrastructure projects and stay the course on planning future projects for the residents of Maple Park. I implore all residents to voice their opinion on the matter before final decisions are made.”

The subject is now being sent to the village’s planning commission and the board will gauge the pulse of the community regarding potential pot shops being allowed in town with an advisory referendum during the election next March.

“We had nothing in our code so if we were to put it into the code that would prohibit it, but it was voted down,” Village of Maple Park President Kathy Curtis said. “It’s now going to the planning commission and the advisory referendum.”

While smoking marijuana in your living room will be legal for adults older than 21 in Maple Park in January, it won’t be legal to do so in public places, while driving or near someone younger than 21.

Because a final decision hasn’t been made yet on pot-selling businesses possibly coming to Maple Park, potential marijuana entrepreneurs would need to seek a special use permit in January, February and March or until a final decision is reached.

“If someone came in on Jan. 1 they’d need to apply for a special use permit since we don’t have an affirmative answer right now either way,” Curtis said. “It would have to go through the planning commission between now and the March referendum result.”

And even if residents are in favor of a dispensaries setting up shop in Maple Park, that doesn’t suggest that the board will necessarily vote in favor of allowing such businesses in the village.

“We still have the ultimate decision,” Curtis said. “But the way the vote went, they weren’t confident. They want more data before they make a decision so they want to hear what the residents have to say, so my feeling is that they’ll use the data to help proceed.”

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