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Bloomington Recommends Dispensaries As Only Cannabis Business

Tim Gleason
Amy Niebur
Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason says the city council will have a full menu of options to consider Monday night when it adopts new guidelines for cannabis businesses.

Bloomington's city council is expected to formally adopt a policy regulating cannabis businesses on Monday night, about two weeks before recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Illinois.
City Manager Tim Gleason said the council will have a full menu of options to consider. He expects the council will open the door for up to two cannabis dispensaries; that's the most the city could get in the first round of licensing.

“Doing a straw poll on two dispensaries versus one dispensary,” Gleason said. “I feel confident that the vote is 5-4 in favor of two dispensaries.

McLean and DeWitt counties are eligible to receive two dispensaries, one of them coming from the medical cannabis dispensary in Normal.

Gleason added he doesn't believe the council will back cannabis cafes, despite the planning commission's recommendation for on-site consumption.

City staff is also recommending the city ban all other types of cannabis establishments, including those who grow, transport or infuse cannabis into baked goods and other edibles; but staff suggested bringing the issue back before the council in the second or third quarter of 2020 to consider allowing those types of businesses.

“It’s probably one of the most controversial topics that’s going to come before the council,” he said. “They have done a very good job of coming together, being willing to compromise.”

The dispensary, which would require a special use permit from the city, could be no closer than 500 feet of a nursery, preschool, primary or secondary school, residential care home, place of worship, park or playground and within 250 feet of a residential area. The city’s planning commission had called for shorter setbacks.

City staff is proposing the city collect the maximum 3% tax on cannabis sales.

City staff is recommending $250 fines for violators. That would include using cannabis in a car, at a school, or in a public place. It would also apply anyone under 21 consuming it or having more than the legal limit of 30 grams. That’s slightly more than one ounce. The city’s ordinance violations for illegal cannabis use mirror the city’s alcohol ordinance violations.

Arena Lights

The council will vote on spending $157,000 for LED lighting upgrades at Grossinger Motors Arena.

Gleason said many of the lights and light fixtures at the downtown venue are aging and need replaced. He said the LEDs will lower the city’s energy costs.

He said the city hasn’t determined how much it will cost to install the new lighting. He said that work would be outsourced early next year.

Mini Racetrack

The council will consider a special use permit to allow an indoor dirt racecar track for remote control race cars.

Nordine’s Heating & Cooling Supply, 1601 S. Bunn St., wants to open the track to the public on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.

The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave its endorsement for the permit in the restricted manufacturing district at its November meeting.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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