McLean County OKs Cannabis Zoning; Rejects Legal Review Of Polling Sites | WGLT

McLean County OKs Cannabis Zoning; Rejects Legal Review Of Polling Sites

Jan 21, 2020

McLean County has adopted new guidelines for marijuana businesses to operate in unincorporated areas of the county.

The County Board voted 16-2 on Tuesday to adopt zoning guidelines which call for marijuana businesses to seek a special use permit. Catherine Metsker and Randall Martin cast the only "no" votes. 

The board also voted against a proposal for the McLean County state’s attorney’s office to review the rules for changing polling sites.

Cannabis

The county’s guidelines stipulates that cannabis cultivation centers locate no closer than 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, public parks, places of worships, libraries or daycare centers.

Any other type of cannabis business, such as a dispensary, craft grower, infuser, processor or transporter, could set up no closer than 500 feet of those establishments.

The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved the guidelines earlier this month.

“We felt pretty comfortable things were written up properly,” County Board Chairman John McIntyre said. “We worked with the zoning board and (county Planning and Zoning). There could very possibly be someone that would want to grow out there."

Unincorporated McLean County could get no more than one cannabis cultivation center in the first round of state licensing.

McIntrye said the county hasn’t received any formal inquires about cannabis businesses, but he figured that could change, citing the medical cannabis cultivation center in Delavan which recently received state approval to grow marijuana for recreational use.

“There is the one that was for medicinal purposes that seems to be doing alright,” he said. “They have employed a number of people and seem to be successful. So I think it’s possible.”

The county has not yet established guidelines for taxing cannabis production or sales. Counties can tax dispensaries in unincorporated areas up to 3.75% and can tax an additional 3% on all marijuana sales in the county.

McIntyre said the county could take that up next month.

Polling Sites Review

The County Board voted 12-6 along party lines to reject seeking a legal opinion over how polling sites can be moved.

Democrat Laurie Wollrab proposed the review to assist with legal questions regarding such matters as how much notice is required to move a polling site and whether population density must be considered.

The County Board’s Finance Committee rejected the review last month.

Republican Jacob Beard backed the review at the time but said he has since received the Illinois statutes from County Clerk Kathy Michael, who oversees all election matters in the county outside the City of Bloomington.

“I looked over it and looked over it again,” Beard said. “I feel like I have all the statutes that are applicable and that guide how this issue is handled. It appears that the questions have been answered.”

Wollrab replied that the state’s attorney could give a more thorough review, perhaps through examining legal precedents or a legislative history.

“The statute in and of itself doesn't give you the full picture of where you stand legally on any particular question,” Wollrab said.

Republican George Wendt considered the state’s attorney’s involvement unnecessary.

“It’s settled law, we don’t need to waste the state’s attorney’s time,” he scoffed.

Democrat Carlo Robustelli suggested there’s no harm.

“The only problem with her request are the individuals who think there’s a problem with it,” Robustelli said. “There is no problem with this request.”

Beard noted Michael has consulted with the state's attorney’s office to review polling site laws and could go into greater detail if specific questions arise in the future.

Michael declined comment after the vote.

Business Rezoning Denied

The County Board rejected Erik Pokarney’s request for a rezoning and expansion of Lake Bloomington Marine. Pokarney wanted the area rezoned from agricultural to manufacturing for his boat dealership.

The board voted 16-3 to back the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals ruling that that business wasn’t consistent with the rest of the area in rural Lexington.

Several board members suggested Pokarney instead seek to a special use permit.

Loud Braking

The County Board agreed to have the Highway Department put up signs in Stanford prohibiting excessive engine braking. The village has received complains from residents about excessively loud braking along Division Street (County Highway 59).

The village will enforce the ordinance and will reimburse the county for the signs.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.