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Local News

Okon: Where to put 'Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensing Organizations?'

Chairman John Dillon speaks to Community Development Director Kendall Jackson during a Planning Commission meeting.
Chairman John Dillon speaks to Community Development Director Kendall Jackson during a Planning Commission meeting.

It's refreshing to hear a member of a public board ask a lot of questions about an issue before voting.

It doesn't happen much in Joliet, which makes you sometimes wonder how much of the public's business is being done in public view.

Plan Commission Chairman John Dillon had a lot of questions at the commission meeting Thursday on zoning rules for recreational marijuana sales.

"This is a serious issue for me," Dillon said before asking staff several questions about where sales are being allowed, where they're not, and the distances set to separate future marijuana stores from homes, schools and day care centers.

The official name for marijuana stores in city documents is Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensing Organization. But we aren't calling liquor stores Adult-Use Alcohol Dispensing Organizations, so I think marijuana stores is a fair name.

Whatever you call them the city doesn't want them close to City Hall.

This is one of the things Dillon asked about, which is a curious aspect of the proposed zoning rules.

It's not just City Hall that will be excluded from having Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensing Organizations as neighbors.

The Will County Courthouse, Joliet Area Historical Museum and Joliet Public Library also are in zones where dispensaries will be banned while allowed elsewhere downtown.

Theater-goers at the Rialto Square Theatre will not pass dispensaries as they walk toward the front door, although they could encounter them in the back of the theater since marijuana stores will be allowed on Scott Street.

Staff "recommends excluding dispensaries from locating near select, prominent downtown Joliet institutions," states the staff analysis on the zoning proposal.

Kendall Jackson, director of community development for the city, explained that staff would not want the dispensaries by the library and museum because of the "family aspect" of those locations.

That makes sense, except Dillon noted the zoning allows for marijuana sales at the Louis Joliet Mall, where there are a lot more people than the library. A lot of those people are families, too.

As for cannabis dispensaries outside the courthouse and City Hall, Jackson said it was viewed as "not proper."

But City Hall will benefit from a 3% tax on recreational marijuana that is expected to generate more than $1 million a year for the city, which probably is a motivating factor in allowing sales in the major business corridors along with those parts of downtown far enough away from selected institutions.

Now there are five

The number of city manager candidates slated for interviews is down from six to five, and interviews are expected in the next 30 to 40 days.

One candidate was removed from the running.

"There were things that popped up that eliminated that person from the process," Mayor Bob O'Dekirk said while providing an update on the city manager search at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. "Right now we're in the background check process."

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