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Peoria City Council discuss potential zoning and licensing for marijuana businesses

Tuesday night Peoria City Council heard proposals from the city manager and staff regarding where recreational marijuana could be sold in the River City.

In general the proposal allows dispensaries, which sell cannabis products, to operate in industrial zones and the warehouse district .
They’d also be able to open in some commercial and business districts with a special use permit.
Council member Jim Montelongo raised concerns about the zoning recommendations, specifically regarding the Warehouse district creating a high concentration of cannabis businesses all in one area. Director of community development Ross black said in all of Peoria, the Warehouse district has the best options for open space when it comes to zoning, but he does not believe this will create that scenario.
“I would be surprised to see multiple different operations in any one area or town including the Warehouse district.” said Ross Black, the director of community development
The city staff emphasized that only three licenses will be given out for all five surrounding counties in the first wave of state licenses in addition to any medical dispensaries that are allowed to file for a recreational license.
They also discussed cannabis licensing requirements which would mirror liquor and tobacco business rules.
The staff required that a cannabis business must be 500 feet from what the state deemed sensitive areas such as day cares and schools.
Many council members such as Denis Cyr asked for that to be increased to 1000 feet and council woman Denise Moore asked for places of worship to also be included.
Some council members such as Beth Jensen asked to set limits on how close a business could be to residential areas, but the senior city attorney said the state statute was very limited in what they have the authority to do
“And that was the regulate the distance between cannabis based business and areas it deemed sensitive starting with colleges and universities and the interpretation is that would include all schools or areas where children should congregate, I don’t think that would extend to residential areas.” said Chrissie Peterson the Senior city attorney
They also left room in that ordinance for the city to decide later if they want to allow businesses to let people use cannabis where it’s sold.
City staff also outlined the licensing fees different business would need to pay ranging from $5000 for a cultivation center, $2500 for a dispenser, and $500 for an infuser.
There was a lot of discussion surrounding the fines a business would face is they were to break a rule, many such as Councilman Chuck Grayeb calling for heftier fines than the proposed $1000 fee.
They voted unanimously to remove an ordinance to does not allow cannabis possession and paraphernalia since it will become legal on the first of the year.
The zoning and licensing discussion will continue at their next meeting.

Kaitlin Pearson

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