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Local

Public hearing set on licensing, zoning weed in Geneva

Planning, Zoning Commission to consider legal pot Thursday

GENEVA – The Geneva Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Council Chambers, 109 James St., to consider zoning text amendments on regulating recreational and medicinal uses of cannabis in the city.

The commission is hearing the issue following the state of Illinois passing a bill to regulate and tax marijuana which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The commission is hearing the issue after the Committee of the Whole directed staff to schedule it following a policy discussion on Sept. 23.

Prior to the recently passed Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the Illinois legislature passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, according to the agenda and packet.

Initially passed as a pilot program in 2014, it has since been made a permanent program.

The city of Geneva did not pass any amendments to the zoning ordinance to address medical cannabis uses.

Therefore, staff is proposing amendments to address medical cannabis uses in addition to the recreational cannabis uses being considered.

Staff will make a recommendation on the cannabis issue at the conclusion of the hearing.

The staff proposal is to allow each of the cannabis uses as defined to be permitted as a special use, records show.

Requiring a special use for cannabis use establishments will allow the city to review and regulate the operation of each individual business, records show.

The review process includes a public hearing held by the Planning and Zoning Commission with mailed notification to surrounding property owners within 500 feet. The zoning ordinance establishes nine standards for special uses.

Even if the commission recommends, and the City Council decides not to allow any of the cannabis uses, it is still necessary to define them, according to the staff comments.

Defining them removes any ambiguity about whether a certain type of cannabis is permitted.

And by defining a use, but not listing it as a permitted or special use in a zoning district, city officials then make clear that the use is not allowed in that district, records show.

If not defined, cannabis uses would be considered under general use categories and would be allowed anywhere similar uses are permitted, records show.

For example, a cannabis dispensing organization would be considered retail sales, and would be permitted in any zoning district that permits retail sales.

Additionally, if city officials decide to change zoning regulations pertaining to any of these uses in the future, or should an applicant propose an amendment in regards to any of these uses, the process will be simpler if the uses are already established and defined in the ordinance.

Among other staff proposals:

• Approval of a special use for cannabis would be conditional upon the applicant providing documentation proving it has all applicable state licenses.

• Cannabis consumption would be prohibited at any cannabis business establishment.

• A recreational cannabis craft grower cannot be located within 1,500 feet of another recreational craft grower, cultivation center, medical or recreational is a state law requirement.

• Other limits on how close a cannabis operation is to various other uses include not within 150 feet of the property line of a school or day care center or residential zoning district.

The full agenda and commission packet is available online at www.geneva.il.us.

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