Lansing wants to be ready should medical marijuana facility choose to locate in village

2014-05-11T00:00:00Z 2014-05-11T00:20:10Z Lansing wants to be ready should medical marijuana facility choose to locate in villageGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 11, 2014 12:00 am  • 

LANSING | When Illinois government created a new law permitting facilities for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical reasons, they wrote into state law specific rules as to where such facilities could be located.

The law states they can't be anywhere near residential areas or schools.

Issues such as security at the facilities, hours they can be open and background checks for who could work there were left unregulated.

Village boards throughout the area have spent recent months studying the issue, and in some cases making changes to their own zoning ordinances to create such restrictions.

Village boards in Sauk Village and South Holland have enacted such changes,  ensuring that medical marijuana facilities will be restricted to industrial zones on the edge of those communities and will not be open 24 hours a day.

Those facilities also are required to hire private security firms to maintain order on their premises, so they are not a burden for local police.

When Lansing’s Planning & Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Police Department, 2710 170th St., they will be seeking to create a similar ordinance for their village.

Vivian Payne, an administrative assistant to Village President Norm Abbott and also secretary to the Zoning Board, said the medical marijuana issue will be one of two on the board’s agenda that night.

They will review an ordinance prepared by Village Attorney Timothy Lapp, who also is the village attorney for South Holland who guided that municipality through the process.

Village Building Commissioner T.J. Grossi, who has worked with Lapp on the ordinance, said Lansing officials want to be sure they have some say over how a medical marijuana facility would operate.

“The state has mandated that these facilities can exist,” Grossi said. “If one of them were to want to come to Lansing, we’d want some say over it.”

Although Thaddeus Jones, a Calumet City alderman who also is a state representative for the south suburbs, said he thinks the local communities rushing to approve ordinances on the issue are misguided.

“The state made a decision to allow these facilities. The state gets to decide where they go,” said Jones, in explaining why the City Council in Calumet City has not taken any action on this issue.

“They (the local village boards) could put this issue to a referendum, but I haven’t heard of anyone considering that,” Jones said.

Grossi, however, said Lansing officials don’t want a situation where they have no input in the way a medical marijuana distribution or cultivation facility would operate. He said the state law requiring distribution facilities must be at least 1,500 feet from residential areas (and 2,500 feet for cultivation facilities) restrict potential sites to a narrow strip on the northern edge of Lansing located just west of the Police Department headquarters.

“The sites for such facilities is so limited,” Grossi said. “We’re never going to have a lot of these facilities able to locate here.”

Members of the public will be offered a chance to comment on the issue during the meeting at the Police Department. Payne said the Zoning Board could give its recommendation to the proposed ordinance that night.

If they do, it is likely the full Village Board would consider the issue for final approval when they meet June 3, Payne said.

Other area communities are taking a slower-paced approach to the issue.

Lynwood Village President Eugene Williams said he’s curious to see how other communities handle the issue before his Village Board takes it on.

Williams also believes there are issues that are greater priority for Lynwood than this, saying, “I never did marijuana in my whole life, so it’s not something I really think much about.”

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