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Rock Island approves ordinances to govern cannabis businesses

Rock Island approves ordinances to govern cannabis businesses

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Shannon Ballegeer, manager of Nature's Treatment of Illinois, holds a container used to store marijuana at Nature's Treatment June 18 in Milan. Rock Island has passed new ordinances to govern businesses that want to sell recreational, rather than medicinal, marijuana.

Recreational cannabis business owners will face some regulations if and when they intend to open shop in Rock Island. 

City council members on Monday unanimously approved a cannabis zoning ordinance and 3% sales tax ordinance in anticipation of recreational marijuana becoming legal Jan. 1.

Alderman Ivory Clark, Ward 1, was absent. 

Municipalities are only allowed to regulate recreational cannabis businesses through zoning as a way to control cultivation, processing and dispensing of cannabis. 

Rock Island Planning and Redevelopment Administrator Miles Brainard said the zoning ordinance is based on recommendations from the Illinois Municipal League. 

"We believe it is a good reflection of the kinds of businesses we are expecting to see, their scale of operations and where they are likely to locate those operations," Brainard said. "We should consider what people might want in their neighborhoods and what they might not want. You'll notice that some types of businesses have been put out in agricultural zones or industrial zones. It is quite separated from residential areas." 

Rock Island's cannabis ordinance states that all cannabis business establishments must be located at least 100 feet from any residential zoning district.

Cannabis craft growing facilities and cultivation centers will be permitted in all agricultural and industrial zoning districts.

Cannabis infuser, processing and transportation organizations will be permitted in all industrial zoning districts, while packaged product dispensing businesses can be in industrial or business-zoned districts.

"We know there may be many folks who will be excited to see cannabis businesses in larger (areas) of town, there are many other residents who may not want to see that," Brainard said. "Over the coming years, there are likely to be quite a lot of changes to the way we regulate cannabis in the state. I'm certain the state legislature will continue to tweak this. 

"I think staff's recommendation can be summed up as 'slow and steady' on this particular subject," Brainard said. 

"Nothing in this prevents someone from getting a special-use permit to operate an infuser (business)," Alderman Dylan Parker, Ward 5, said. 

"Correct," Brainard said. "Processes are in place to protect interested parties. That individual will have to go through a public hearing like any other individual and their neighbors will have an opportunity to say whether or not they are in favor of that.

"There are going to be a lot of corporate cannabis interests from out of state," Brainard said. "You're not going to see a lot of small businesses be able to even get a license to do this kind of work. It's a very expensive process to apply and to navigate it takes a lot of wherewithal."

Although the ordinance states on-site consumption dispensing businesses will be permitted in industrial and business zoning districts, Parker noted that cannabis consumption lounges are not included in the ordinance.

"As long as we can get cannabis cafes (passed) before Jan. 1," he said. 

"I have a comment since I don't get to vote," Mayor Mike Thoms said. "I am opposed to recreational marijuana, but in the same token, I've got to say that by taxing it, I am comfortable with the new revenue it will bring in."

Alderman Randy Hurt, Ward 2, said he also is opposed to recreational marijuana, but voted to approve both ordinances. 

"It's not something I would support, but the added revenue will be good," Alderman Jenni Swanson, Ward 4, said. 

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