Urbana City Council to vote on pot-business rules

Urbana City Council to vote on pot-business rules

URBANA — City council members tonight could finalize new rules on marijuana dispensaries and cultivators that would allow the shops to start opening inside the city limits.

The city's plan commission voted 5-0 in July to establish rules that govern the shops in light of the state's new law legalizing marijuana for medical use. Right now, Urbana does not have any rules regulating marijuana-related businesses.

Hear more about Monday's council vote at 4:20 p.m. on WDWS.

The proposed ordinance changes will go before the city council when it meets at 7 p.m. They govern largely where and how marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers can open, whereas the state law deals mostly with how they are allowed to operate.

Under the proposal:

— Cultivation centers, where marijuana is grown, would need approval from either the city council or zoning board of appeals. Dispensaries, where medical marijuana is sold to customers, would not need special approval.

— Cultivation centers would be allowed only in industrial or agriculturally zoned areas. Dispensaries would be confined to commercial or light-industrial zones.

— Neither would be allowed anywhere near schools or day care facilities — cultivation centers would need a 2,500-foot buffer from those areas, and dispensaries would need 1,000 feet of separation. Cultivation centers would also need a 2,500-foot buffer from residential areas, and dispensaries would be prohibited from operating out of any house, apartment or condominium.

The proposed rules leave only one small area of the city where cultivation centers would be allowed to open: an industrial area west of Lincoln Avenue in the far northwest corner.

Dispensaries would have considerably more options: Among them are anywhere within a couple blocks of the intersection of University and Cunningham avenues, near North Lincoln Avenue, on University Avenue immediately north of the University of Illinois campus, and just about anywhere north of Interstate 74.

At the July plan commission meeting, city administrators said allowing marijuana-related businesses in Urbana would strengthen its reputation as a regional health care center. City officials have already received a "few inquiries" from businesses looking to open in Urbana.

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