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.