Area plot 'best' for pot
MONTICELLO — A Chicago company wants to put a medical marijuana cultivation center on 23 acres of land in Monticello that it already has under contract.
Representatives of TKPP Investments gave their pitch to the city council for a 40,000- to 45,000-square-foot, $4.5 million facility on the southern edge of town near the county jail.
The state of Illinois will take applications for potential cultivation centers next month, with just one permit being allowed in each state police district.
Competition is expected to be fierce, but TKPP partner Peter Newell believes the ground at 1215 Raymond Road has a leg up because of its proximity to the Piatt County Public Safety Building, which houses the jail.
"We feel like we've identified the best plot of land. It's right next to the public safety facility," Newell said. "When we learned that we were just really thrilled, because we think that will make everyone comfortable, including state regulators."
The state has adopted strict guidelines that include around-the-clock security at the all-indoor cultivation facilities.
TKPP security consultant and retired FBI agent Tony D'Angelo said safety measures would be "more stringent than an airport."
But all the talk of security was disconcerting to the family of Cledith Rowe, who lives just east of the proposed site.
"I heard the word 'security' several times, and the thing that crossed my mind is: Why are we creating a security issue where we don't even have one right now?" said Becky Rowe, the daughter-in-law of Cledith Rowe.
"They're talking about all this security, it just blows my mind," added Cledith Rowe.
Newell said he wants to "take a very serious approach to security and overdo it," adding they have already had extensive discussions on the issue with local law enforcement officials. He also believes the site's proximity to the University of Illinois for potential research purposes is another plus.
The proposed Monticello property is zoned partially business, partially industrial. Both are currently allowable uses for a cultivation center, but TKPP is asking for the entire 23 acres to be zoned business. That request goes before the city Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 4.
City administration had proposed the idea of requiring a special use permit for growing facilities, but the timetable of the state permitting process will likely not allow for that change before decisions on locations are made.
State statutes require the cultivation centers be no closer than 2,500 feet to a school, preschool, day care or any area zoned for residential use.
From A to Z
The state has posted on its website the application patients will need to fill out before being considered for a medical marijuana card. When forms will be reviewed depends on the first letter of your last name:
A through L: Tuesday through Oct. 31.
M through Z: Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
Steve Hoffman is editor of the Piatt County Journal-Republican, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit journal-republican.com.