Galesburg Considering Zoning Changes for Medical Marijuana Opera - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Galesburg Considering Zoning Changes for Medical Marijuana Operations

Posted: Updated: Jun 17, 2014 11:47 PM
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As the state of Illinois continues to work to implement its new medical marijuana law, the city of Galesburg is taking a look at its own rules about where growing and selling operations can go.

The city's Planning and Zoning commission voted 5-2 Tuesday night in favor of recommending proposed zoning changes that would allow cultivation centers as a conditional use in light and heavy industrial zoning areas, and would allow dispensaries as a conditional use in light and heavy industrial areas, as well as some commercially zoned areas. The condition for both operations would be that they also meet all state requirements.

The state rules are very strict.

The state law requires cultivation centers to be at least 2,500 feet away from schools, day care facilities and residential properties. In Galesburg, that means there are only a few eligible areas, and all of them are currently in heavy industrial zoning areas. The zoning proposal would also change the rules for light industrial zoning areas that met state distance requirements in case eligible land is rezoned as that in the future.
Dispensaries are required under state law to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, day cares, and homes, and eligible areas in Galesburg are in industrial, commercial, and institutional zoning areas.

The zoning proposal would not allow dispensaries in the institutional areas, near parks, hospitals, and colleges. It would also restrict their commercial locations to only B-2 commercially zoned properties.

"The state statutes really prohibit the city from totally banning them, so we need to make sure that what we are doing is something that is acceptable to the residents, but at the same time complies with the new Illinois state statutes," said Roy Parkin, Galesburg's Community Development Director.

There will be very few licenses for cultivation and dispensing operations available in the state, but many city leaders say they want to clear the way for that kind of economic opportunity.

"It creates jobs. People will have to be employed in these positions, and they will be paid well, I understand. And then there is the taxing from the sale of it," said 7th Ward Alderman Jeremy Karlin, "And also to provide the service. We are a  community of two hospitals and it makes sense that we should provide the full gamut of medical services."

"With all of the regulations that is on it, it could be a tremendous bonus if we were lucky enough to get it," said 6th Ward Alderman Wayne Allen, who attended Tuesday's planning and zoning commission meeting to learn more about the proposal.

Ultimately, two planning and zoning commission members voted against recommending the proposal. One, saying he was voting against it out of protest against the state's heavy-handedness and the use of street drugs.

"We cannot address the morality of it. We could have all voted 'no' tonight, it would still go to the city council," said planning and zoning commission member Judy Guenseth, who voted in favor of recommending the proposal.

"I am sure there is other ways to do it and I'm sure there are people who disagree with me but I think it could be beneficial," she said.
The proposed zoning changes now go to city council to consider. The first reading will be at the next meeting, July 7, with a final vote likely at the following meeting, July 21.

This week's Planning and Zoning commission meeting was supposed to be a public hearing on the proposed changes. No one spoke.
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