The village of North Riverside will be the latest municipality to tackle whether to prohibit the retail sale of recreational cannabis or allow it and work out ways to regulate it, minimize impact on residential neighborhoods and tax it.
Recreational cannabis will be the lone subject at a special meeting of the village board on Monday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. in the council room of the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave.
At the meeting, the mayor and trustees will discuss how to regulate the sale of recreational cannabis, where to limit the location of cannabis dispensaries and whether to impose a 3-percent tax on the sale of cannabis locally.
While recreation cannabis sales don’t become legal in the state of Illinois until Jan. 1, 2020, the village wants to decide one way or the other on the tax issue on Monday, since the Illinois Department of Revenue has placed an Oct. 1 deadline for municipalities to indicate if they plan to impose a local tax.
The Illinois Department of Revenue will be the agency in charge of collecting the tax and then distributing it back to municipalities and needs to work out that mechanism.
While this will be the first time members of the public can provide official input on which way the village should go on allowing recreational cannabis sales in North Riverside, village officials seem open to welcoming cannabis dispensaries.
The North Riverside Economic Development Commission, an advisory group of residents and business representatives formed earlier this year by the village board, has been on record supporting the introduction of a cannabis dispensary to the village.
In June, during a presentation on the commission’s vision for North Riverside’s future economic redevelopment, commission chairman Jason Bianco said “it would be ridiculous for us not to pursue” a cannabis dispensary.
Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. in an interview earlier this week, said that while he might not have agreed with the decision by the Illinois General Assembly to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use, he’s not going to approach the dispensary issue from the standpoint of individual morality.
“I’m not the morals police,” Hermanek said. “I’m here to keep the taxes as low as I can for the residents and keep the services as high as I can.”
Hermanek said that unlike Riverside, where residential neighborhoods are immediately adjacent to commercial districts, North Riverside officials would be able to restrict the location of cannabis dispensaries to commercial districts that are more isolated from residential areas of the village.
He identified examples of such locations as the long-vacant bank building at the corner of Cermak Road and First Avenue and the strip shopping center along 25th Street, east of North Riverside Park Mall.
“We can zone it to keep that away from residents,” Hermanek said.
This story has beeen changed to update the time of the meeting.