Geneva mayor breaks tie vote to allow cannabis sales
Geneva officials have set zoning parameters to allow recreational and medical cannabis sales in the city.
Mayor Kevin Burns voted to approve the ordinance, breaking a 5-5 tie among aldermen, that will allow one medical and one recreational cannabis dispensary under the Illinois' Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will make recreational use and possession by adults legal across the state on Jan. 1.
The plan also permits cannabis craft growers, infusers, processing and transporter organizations. In addition, the ordinance established parking regulations, hours of operation and separation requirements from schools, day care facilities and residential areas.
The more than 3½-hour special city council meeting on Monday began with public comments on both sides of the issue and included several amendments to the planning and zoning commission recommendations.
The mayor told the crowd they were only discussing zoning issues in Geneva.
"This is not re-litigating" the state's decision, Burns said. "This is strictly a zoning matter."
In response to a public comment about the lack of debate, Burns said, "That discussion was everywhere."
"To assume there has been no discussion, would be to assume that we have not heard from our constituents, whether they be in support of or in opposition to (cannabis in Geneva)," he said.
Cannabis organizations in Geneva will require a special-use permit, meaning the city will look at each applicant on an individual basis. Requirements for any establishment would include a building that would not diminish the value of nearby properties, change the character of the area or cause traffic congestion.
Aldermen made changes to the ordinance beyond the recommendations from the planning and zoning committee, which had recommended prohibiting recreational cannabis dispensaries in the city.
An amendment proposed by Alderman Mike Bruno eliminated a 150-foot setback for infusing, processing and transporting establishments. The recommendation from planning and zoning required the 150-foot setback for all cannabis businesses in Geneva.
"(These businesses in industrial areas) seem less impactful than uses that are already there," Bruno said.
More than the 150-foot setback would be like "considering a prohibition," Community Development Director David DeGroot said.
The 150-foot buffer was "about keeping a reasonable opportunity," he said. "If you start applying a higher buffer, you really start limiting the opportunity to even be considered eligible."
An amendment to prohibit medical and recreational facilities in the downtown area failed.
"I don't think that eliminating the downtown area makes sense," Alderman Becky Hruby said. "Either we agree this is the right thing for our community or it's not. If it's OK on the east side, it should be OK on 3rd Street."