Brookfield to require special use for cannabis businesses

Trustees expected to vote to ratify amended zoning code in December

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By Bob Uphues


Brookfield trustees are poised to vote next month on amendments to the village's zoning code that regulate where cannabis can be dispensed, cultivated and processed, following a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission last week.

On Nov. 21, planning commissioners accepted revisions made by village hall staff to their initial submittal, which would have made adult-use cannabis dispensaries and related business allowed by right in commercial and industrial areas in Brookfield.

But after input from the village board and sensing unease from planning commissioners about simply allowing cannabis dispensaries and related businesses by right, staff tightened the suggested regulations.

At the village board's committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 25, trustees appeared to largely agree with those revisions, the most significant of which will require all cannabis-related businesses to obtain special use permits in order to operate in Brookfield.

According to Village Planner Elyse Vukelich, planning commissioners leaned toward requiring a special use permit because of the possibility that cannabis dispensaries could also allow onsite consumption of the products.

"I think, in particular, the onsite consumption of cannabis came up a lot at the Planning and Zoning Commission," Vukelich said. "There's a lot of questions about how it would actually work in reality, and because of those untested elements, they felt it was best to include it as a special use."

Most village trustees also appeared comfortable with where the amended code would allow the location of dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses. Dispensaries would be allowed as a special use along the entire lengths of Ogden Avenue and 47th Street.

Dispensaries would also be allowed in the Eight Corners and Grand Boulevard business districts, as well as the commercially designated properties on 31st Street, which generally fall between Sunnyside and Arthur avenues.

However, dispensary locations would be further restricted by a requirement that no dispensary could be located within 100 feet of a pre-existing school or daycare. That provision mirrors the village's zoning code relative to alcohol sales.

But, the provision would impact where cannabis dispensaries could locate in the Eight Corners and Grand Boulevard commercial districts. Because of the presence of S.E. Gross Middle School, Alphabet Learning Center and Montessori Children's Community, the entire 9200 block of Broadway Avenue and part of the 3400 block of Maple Avenue would be off limits to cannabis dispensaries.

Alphabet Learning Center's second location on Grand Boulevard would also shrink the area in that district where cannabis dispensaries are allowed to roughly the south one-third of the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard. Dispensaries would also be allowed at the commercial properties framing the Burlington-Prairie intersection.

Trustee Brian Conroy said he favored eliminating cannabis dispensaries completely in the Grand Boulevard and Eight Corners business districts.

"I'm not a big fan of allowing the dispensaries in the walkable business districts," said Conroy, adding that his experience on a recent trip to California reinforced that view. "You can't walk anywhere without hitting a cloud of the stuff. I know it's still illegal to smoke it in public, but it's being smoked and you don't know where it's coming from. It's just there. And it's not something I want to experience in our walkable business districts."

However, Conroy's objection did not have much support among fellow trustees, who said they wanted to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation.

Village trustees also accepted the commission's recommendation to restrict craft cannabis growers, infusers and processing businesses to the wedge-shaped industrial area bordered by Southview Avenue, the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks and Blanchan Avenue.

Trustee Michael Garvey suggested that those uses also might be appropriate for 47thStreet, but in the end trustees were comfortable with the amendment as presented.

The village board is expected to vote on the zoning amendments at their meeting on Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave. Adult-use cannabis sales become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020.

Also on Dec. 9, village trustees may also be faced with adopting business license requirements and fees for cannabis related operations. Asked how the fees might be structured, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said that business license fees for cannabis dispensaries likely would be similar to liquor license fees.

Brookfield trustees decided against specifying a limit on the number of cannabis-related businesses the village will allow, saying that existing limits in the state law and in Brookfield's proposed code amendments would naturally limit their presence locally.

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Jane Archer from Riverside  

Posted: December 2nd, 2019 12:02 AM

Enough of the nonsense fake information! Tom, did "the people you know in both California and Colorado" also buy the Mrs Fields cookie recipes and get stuck with a $700 bill? Just like that urban myth, those 'people' you know are just that-myths. Those 'people in CA and CO didn't tell you that the smell around dispensaries is terrible. How do I know? Because there are regulations about that in both states. And I know this because my brother is in the business in CA. I just talked to him to get the 411. First of all, in order to be able to smoke in a dispensary you need a special permit other than a retail permit for that purpose. Then you need to have special ventilation with HEPA filters for that room. It cannot be vented onto the street. In addition there can be no smoking pot within 15 feet of a door at a dispensary. The people who run the dispensaries are very strict about following all the codes because the entire industry is so heavily regulated and they don't want to lose their licenses. In addition, if it is a retail only store, the windows must be obscured so that passersby can't see in, no one under 21 can get in, there cannot be any kid-friendly shapes being sold, and advertising is heavily regulated. There are many more common sense regulations. This in-spite of the fact that none of these same rules and regulations apply to the sale of tobacco products or alcohol products. What I see and hear is people with a specific agenda deliberately disseminating misinformation in an attempt to spread their particular personal agenda which is frequently also based on misinformation. I have written about this previously in a letter to the Village Trustees of Riverside, and to the editor of the RBLandmark. I used to work in ERs across the country. I can't recall a single person being brought in with a problem related to pot. Contrast that with the vast number of people brought in with problems related to the consumption of alcohol!

Tom Galbraith  

Posted: November 27th, 2019 8:15 PM

I agree with Brian Conroy about the dispensary being located in 8 corners or along Grand Avenue business corridors. People I know in both California and Colorado state ,as he has, that the smell around dispensaries is terrible. This is adult business and these corridors are frequented by students and children going for icecream,a slice of pizza, a hot chocolate,or a muffin at the coffee shop. The main business districts should be off limits for dispensaries.

Nick Eliopulos  

Posted: November 27th, 2019 10:56 AM

How does one person's anecdotal experience in a much more liberal state constitute standing as the voice of reason, Kathy? It's fine to have different opinions and objections to cannabis. But the unverified experience of one person is hardly the basis for a strong argument over its governance.

Kathy Taylor Wyant  

Posted: November 26th, 2019 8:16 PM

Thank you, Brian Conroy, for trying to be the voice of reason on this issue.

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