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Local News

Lockport bans recreational marijuana business in city limits

As expected, Lockport has voted to outlaw recreational pot shops in the city.

City Council members Wednesday night, on a 7-1 vote, approved an ordinance prohibiting all recreational marijuana businesses in the city – including dispensaries, cultivation centers, craft growers, infusers and transporters. Alderman Darren Deskin was the dissenting vote.

Medicinal marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers are not included in the prohibition, as the city allowed them after they were legalized in Illinois in 2014. However, the city had imposed strict zoning regulations that effectively allowed them only on the Chevron property located north of downtown.

However, no medicinal marijuana businesses have come to the city. Romeoville and Joliet both have such dispensaries.

With Illinois’ legalization of recreational marijuana taking effect Jan. 1, local municipalities cannot restrict the possession, purchase and private use of the drug. However, they do have the authority to opt out of allowing its production and distribution in their towns.

Mokena, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Wilmington and Naperville are among a growing number of nearby municipalities that have already opted out. Both Joliet and Romeoville have approved a tax on recreational marijuana sales but have yet to vote on allowing sale of the drug.

Deskin and Alderwoman Christina Bergbower made it clear they would have liked to have a discussion and separate vote on allowing recreational cannabis-related businesses such as cultivation centers, infusers and transporters on the Chevron property.

Deskin told the council he was “disappointed” the other businesses were included in the ordinance that required action that night because the council’s discussion at the Oct. 2 meeting had focused on dispensaries.

Bergbower said before the vote that while she did “on a personal note” support the state’s legalization of the drug, she intended to vote “at this time” against allowing recreational pot shops.

Having done some research after receiving many emails on the subject, Bergbower said it was “hard to discern fact from exaggeration or hyperbole.”

“I can’t get a grasp on how [allowing pot dispensaries] would look like for the citizens of Lockport,” she said.

However, she said that allowing cultivation centers, infusers or transporters would have brought more jobs and tax revenue to the city. She also recommended introducing educational programs for the public on marijuana usage.

Deskin said after the meeting he would have liked to see the city collect property tax revenue from a building that would have gone up on the Chevron property that has been vacant since 2008.

Mayor Steven Streit said he considered the City Council’s action as a “right now opt-out.”

Although he is “skeptical” about proponents’ projection of potential tax revenues, Streit said that if marijuana becomes a “great boon” for the state, a future City Council would be able to opt in.

“Let’s see how all this plays out,” he said.

Separately, the City Council voted unanimously for a resolution that allows a six-month food truck pilot program. The resolution temporarily sets aside a city code requirement that any food trucks operating within the city also have a brick-and-mortar restaurant in town.

The six-month trial period will end April 30. However, if the city finds that the program is successful, the City Council can make the change permanent by approving an ordinance amendment. According to the resolution, food trucks would only be allowed to operate one day a week at locations approved by the city. The food truck operator must also provide a garbage receptacle while doing business and clean up any trash within a 25-foot radius of the truck.

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