Trustees vote 4-1 to send issue to planning and zoning commission
By Daniel J. Cameron
At Tuesday night’s Lake Zurich village board meeting, village trustees voted 4-1 against continuing the village’s ban on recreational cannabis, and instead sent the issue to the planning and zoning commission for further public hearing and study. Public hearings will be held Nov. 18.
In Sept. 2019, the board passed an ordinance to prohibit recreational cannabis businesses in Lake Zurich. The board agreed to discuss the issue a year later, with discussion last month and a postponed vote because not enough board members were in attendance.
On Tuesday, all trustees voted “Yes” except Jim Beaudoin, who was absent, and Marc Spacone, who voted “No.”
“I was a ‘No’ last year. I am a ‘No.’ I always will be a ‘No’ on this. All this does is create a higher level of access. It is still illegal federally. To me, we’re just waiting for a supreme court decision to come down at some point. I will always be a ‘No,’ but I am only one vote,” said Spacone.
What happens next?
The planning and zoning commission will hold public hearings Nov. 18 and consider where recreational dispensaries may be located in Lake Zurich, and whether to zone those dispensaries as commercial, industrial or both.
The committee will also consider setback requirements (such as the village-mandated rule that one dispensary must be at least 1,500 feet from another one), and appropriate hours of operation.
After the hearings and discussion, the commission will deliver a report and a recommendation back to the village board, which may be ready to take next steps and vote whether to accept the commission’s recommendations. This could happen as early as December 7 of this year, unless the hearings are protracted, said Kyle Kordell, Assistant to the Village Manager.
“Unless something strange happens, it’s unlikely, in my opinion, that we could even get considered for a [recreational dispensary] in the foreseeable future.”Lake Zurich Mayor Tom Poynton
Lake Zurich Mayor Thomas Poynton said, “We originally opted out of a recreational marijuana dispensary. We decided as a board to opt out. We’re trying to get all the information together to have full knowledge. I don’t think we’re going to find anything new. When we get to the point where we take it to a vote, we want to know where it could possibly go.”
Poynton also noted that the village does not have a medical dispensary in Lake Zurich and no entities have inquired or requested Lake Zurich to reconsider its status. “A year ago, we basically said ‘We’re not in business at this point in time’ and that message has been received.” Poynton also noted that recreational licenses are “being doled out with an eyedropper” by the state, as medical dispensaries have priority to receive recreational cannabis licenses.
“Unless something strange happens, it’s unlikely, in my opinion, that we could even get considered for a [recreational dispensary] in the foreseeable future,” said Poynton.
Mayor says Illinois laws “not clean”
The mayor mentioned the Illinois state law legalizing recreational cannabis, which took effect January 1 of this year, was not as clean as he would have liked to have seen, and that is one of the reasons the village waited to vote on the issue.
Discussion before the vote
Spacone, who voted against sending the issue to the planning and zoning commission, also said he has done “too much work with kids” professionally to be in favor of recreational cannabis in Lake Zurich. “I said a year ago that the state legislature was short-sighted when they approved this statewide.”
Trustee Weider noted that he wasn’t opposed to further discussion, provided the discussion was about potential zoning. “I don’t know that it dramatically changes my position today, but I think getting all the information with regard to if this business line was to move forward in town, where and how it would be zoned, [that’s] important information to have before a definitive decision is made.”
Trustee Euker said “I’m with Trustee Weider. I’m not opposed to having it discussed publicly because that’s the only way we can gain knowledge about this…I don’t know that [sending the measure to planning and zoning] will change my mind, but I am willing to keep an open ear,” she said.
Follow the money
Village Manager Ray Keller, citing an 64-page village memo, estimated that annual tax revenue (at 3%) from a single recreational dispensary could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for the village.
Estimates in the memo were derived from suburban Chicagoland recreational cannabis facilities, including Mundelein, which generated $600K from the Rise dispensary (the only recreational dispensary in Lake county); Niles, which generated $400K; Arlington Heights $500K; Evanston $500K; and Rolling Meadows $300K.
Keller noted that revenues from a recreational dispensary might be equivalent to lost revenues from the Peapod grocery facility, which closed in February of last year. Peapod generated approximately $300k in revenue for the village.
“It could be equivalent to Peapod, in terms of size and its sales tax impact on a gross level,” said Keller.
In a public poll held in Sept. of this year, approximately 59% of Lake Zurich residents responded in favor of a recreational cannabis dispensary conceivably opening in the village, a small increase from a year ago, when the vote was approximately 50-50, according to Assistant Village Manager Roy Witherow. In the poll, 830 residents voiced their opinions.
Results from a similar poll conducted a year ago in September 2019 can be viewed here.
“I think in the last 10 years of [state] legalization, Colorado being the first, people are becoming more comfortable with it. Last year some municipalities took the leap and did it. I think our board followed that dynamic now,” said Witherow.
Prior to the vote during a public comment session, resident Michael Hilt of Dunhill Drive, who is against allowing recreational cannabis, recommended that, should a dispensary be opened, trustees consider commercial zoning rather than industrial zoning, as this may help local businesses.
“Look at the synergies that this business might afford other businesses here in town,” he said, noting that dispensary customers may patronize other local businesses if zoning were commercial rather than industrial.
Kordell said that the state of Illinois takes sales tax revenues from the sale of recreational cannabis and shares it with municipalities on a per capita basis, based on population. Though Lake Zurich banned cannabis sales in the village last year, it has received approximately $8,400 in revenue this year from the state’s local government distributive fund, which took effect January 1.