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Local News

Okon: More marijuana, less water for Joliet?

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday votes on a special use permit for marijuana to be sold at a former mattress store outside the mall.
The Joliet City Council on Tuesday votes on a special use permit for marijuana to be sold at a former mattress store outside the mall.

Don’t expect reefer madness at the Louis Joliet Mall even if the city approves a permit for a recreational marijuana store nearby.

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday votes on a special-use permit for marijuana to be sold at a former mattress store outside the mall.

“There’s a concern that people would buy cannabis, go bananas and go to the mall and do whatever,” Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis told the City Council Legislative and Land Use Committee on Wednesday.

Not likely, Regis said, noting that the kind of restrictions that apply to alcohol also apply to marijuana, and buying alcohol near the mall hasn’t led to big problems.

“There’s already a dispensary,” he said. “It’s called Binny’s.”

Green Thumb Industries, which operates a medical marijuana dispensary at the Rock Run Business Park, is seeking permits for that location and the former mattress store at 2903 Colorado Ave.

Water conservation

On another matter at the Land Use and Legislative Committee meeting, Councilwoman Jan Quillman suggested that Joliet develop regulation regarding restaurant water.

Quillman brought up the topic in reference to water conservation. Joliet plans in the next decade to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a new water source amid a forecast that city wells won’t be sufficient by 2030.

Noting that California has a law requiring restaurant customers to ask for water before it can be served, Quillman said it’s not unusual for most of the water put before customers at local restaurants to still be on the tables when they leave.

“If people want water, they can ask for it,” Quillman said. “It will conserve the water, and it will save the restaurants from having to wash the glasses, and their water bills will go down.”

City wells

The outlook for Joliet wells hasn’t gotten better, said Daniel Abrams, groundwater flow monitor with the Illinois State Water Survey.

Abrams spoke to the Environmental Commission on Tuesday before it cast its vote to recommend Lake Michigan as the city’s next water source.

“We continue to find support that 2030 is the date that maximum daily demands won’t be met by three wells,” Abrams said.

Those three wells, he said, “are some of the biggest pumpers” in the city. Once they start to go, other wells have to pick up the slack. And, when that starts to happen, Abrams said, “it’s like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Budget hearing

If the public is upset about paying 3 cents more for a Joliet gas tax, they haven’t made a case so far.

The Joliet City Council votes Tuesday on the proposed 2020 budget, which includes the hike in the gas tax from a penny now to 4 cents next year. At two council meetings on the budget, no one from the public has spoken against the gas tax increase.

There will be a public hearing on the budget during the council’s workshop meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or

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