JOLIET — One Will County Board member's attempt to tighten medical marijuana zoning laws failed Tuesday when the board's Land Use and Development Committee opted to maintain the status quo.
By a 4-1 vote, with two members absent, the committee voted to keep the county's zoning ordinance as is, meaning cultivation centers will not be required to obtain a special-use permit to do business in unincorporated Will County.
Last month, Republican Chairman Jim Moustis raised concerns that the ordinance spelled trouble because it didn't provide for public hearings and special approval from the county. Moustis voiced his concern after opposition arose in Wilton Township to a cultivation center proposed there.
But Board Member Ragan Freitag, R-Wilmington, on Tuesday said she's OK with the ordinance as is, noting state law is strict enough and bars medical marijuana businesses from opening up near residential areas and daycare centers.
The county board voted earlier this year to leave the application process wide open with the idea that an easier application process with fewer hurdles would lead to a greater chance of landing one of the businesses, Land Use and Development Committee Chairman Tom Weigel said.
Longtime Board Member Walter Adamic, D-Joliet, cast the only vote in support of changing the ordinance. Moustis is not on the committee.
Competition for medical marijuana cultivation centers is expected to be fierce in the region.
Earlier this month, the state received 14 applications – the highest received in any police district – for cultivation centers in Illinois State Police District 5, which is made up by Will, Grundy and Kendall counties.
It’s unclear how applications are split among the three counties, but Illinois' medical marijuana law only allows 21 growing center licenses statewide – one per police district – out of the 159 applicants vying to get into the business.