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Report: Area drivers collide every 8 years

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 11:16 a.m. CDT

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council has approved restrictions for where medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries would be allowed in town.

The zoning restrictions are in preparation for the new Illinois medical marijuana law.

The restrictions were passed by the council 4-3 on Tuesday, with commissioners Sean Durkin, Becky Rheintgen and Bob Barnett voting "no." They said the restrictions were not strict enough and wanted to see further limitations of where the facilities could be located in town.

The special use was recommended by the plan commission in October, and limits cultivation and dispensing centers to areas zoned for light manufacturing (M1).

M1 allows for a range of uses, including offices, banks, medical and dental clinics and daycare centers. M1 does not allow for schools, and is typically isolated from residential uses, according to village documents.

The state statute requires a marijuana dispensary to be at least 1,000 feet from a school, daycare or residentially-zoned area, and a cultivation site would have to be at least 2,500 feet away.

The village's special use also requires both to be the same distances from any parks, at the request of the park district.

Durkin and Rheintgen both wanted to additionally restrict marijuana dispensaries or cultivation centers from being within proximity of recreational facilities. Their recommendation was not added to the list of restrictions.

"I think we're being too lenient by supporting what staff's recommending," Durkin said.

In addition to applying for a special use permit with the village, any prospective marijuana clinic owner would have to comply with a lengthy list of state standards listed in the new statute, and owners would be subject to a criminal background check.

"The inclusion of a special use in this gives us the flexibility we need in order to apply, in a rational and thoughtful manner, the ordinance we have and take into account some of the other concerns that we have," Commissioner Greg Hose said.

Commissioner David Olsen also cited the fact that any prospective owner would have to come before the council to be approved for a special use as a further level of control for the village.

"I plan to support this, though I'm not happy about [the new state law]," he said. "This state law is not something I would have supported, but it's out of our control."

Village Planner Stan Popovich said this fall that like any request for a special use, the village looks at whether the business fits in the with the comprehensive plan for the proposed area, and whether it promotes and protects the "public health, safety, morals, comfort and general welfare."

"The state statute allows us to place reasonable zoning regulations on these [businesses]," Popovich said.

There are six areas zoned as light manufacturing in Downers Grove, but only two areas would fit the new requirements due to proximity to schools and parks: the area near Ogden Avenue and Warrenville Road and the Ellsworth Industrial Park.

Illinois is the 21st state to pass a medical marijuana law. It goes into effect Jan. 1.

The new law limits the total number of licensed dispensaries and cultivation sites at 60 and 22, respectively, state-wide. Patients with a prescription from a doctor to treat one of 35 eligible medical conditions will be able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

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When was the last time you were involved in a fender bender? If it’s been nearly eight years, start keeping an extra eye open while you’re on the road. Allstate Insurance reports that Chicago-area drivers collide with one another every eight years.

Chicagoans crash into one another about 25 percent more often than then national average.

To keep your odds low, give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Although the GPS might chirp that you should reach your destination in less than 10 minutes, gridlock, pedestrians, slow trucks and a variety of events can all work against you to extend that 10 minutes to 20 or more. If you always assume you need extra time to get where you’re going, you’ll be more relaxed on the road and less likely to rumble with fellow drivers.

Also pay attention to the traffic and news reports before you leave your home or office. If the governor is riding in a motorcade down your route during rush hour, for example, you’ll know to find an alternative route to avoid the chaos. One father attended a baseball game over the summer only to find his way home completely blocked by Taylor Swift’s entourage and a police escort as she left the game.

Staying alert will also help. City traffic is stop and go much of the time anyway; be prepared to stop for pedestrians darting into the street, emergency vehicles or public transportation.

Last, don’t leave home without directions. Even if you have GPS, enter the address before you step on the gas pedal and be sure you skim through the directions at least briefly to get a good feel for the distances you’ll travel and forks in the road that could be confusing. If you get lost, don’t make the amateur mistake of trying to correct your GPS while on the move. Pull over, figure out what’s wrong with the directions, and wait until you’re calm to get back in gear.

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