The Crystal Lake City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday allowing cannabis dispensaries in the city.
The City Council also adopted a 3% sales tax on marijuana establishments in Crystal Lake.
The decision to allow the marijuana dispensary in Crystal Lake was approved, 7-1, with council member Cathy Ferguson voting no. However, all council members, including Ferguson, voted to adopt the 3% sales tax.
Although council members voted to allow dispensaries, other kinds of marijuana businesses, such as cultivation centers, infusers/processors and transporters, will still be prohibited. The decision to allow these other businesses can be revisited in the future.
Marijuana will officially be legal in Illinois starting Jan. 1 with the passing of the Cannabis Recreation and Tax Act.
Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said his default position is that he’s “really unhappy” that the state made marijuana legal in the first place.
“I think it was the wrong decision, and I don’t like it,” he said.
Still, he said the 3% sales tax would be a nice sum of money coming in to the city.
If the city opts out of having a marijuana business, Shepley said, it would get all of the “downsides” of legalized marijuana without any of the good parts.
Crystal Lake referred the question to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a public hearing on the matter. The hearing took place on Sept. 4, and looked at allowing marijuana dispensaries as a special use permit with certain criteria.
The Planning and Zoning Commission made some recommendations for zoning a marijuana business in Crystal Lake.
This included making a potential dispensary be 1,000 feet away from places such as public or private nursery school, primary or secondary school, day care center or residential care home.
They commission also recommended allowing 1,000 feet within the property of a religious establishment, parks and open space, library, or recovery home.
A couple of attendees at Tuesday’s City Council meeting had concerns that these suggestions originally made by the Planning and Zoning Commission would be too restrictive, discouraging potential businesses from coming to Crystal Lake. This concern was echoed by some council members, including Ellen Brady.
“I think it’s going to happen, so either we’re going to embrace it and allow it in our community or we’re not,” she said. “I think the 100 feet [buffer] is overly restrictive.”
The council changed the 1,000 feet buffer to 500, but kept the distance dispensaries have to be away from residential properties at 250 feet.