by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (December 10, 2019) – “Discussion of this issue tonight is not meant to convey that the Village is pushing us to adopt cannabis zoning,” said Village Administrator Dan Podgorski at the November 19 Committee of the Whole meeting. “It’s just meant to initiate discussion.”
As an example of why such discussion is necessary, Podgorski let the Board members know that Lansing is already receiving calls from cannabis dispensary owners looking for potential business locations, largely because of Lansing’s easy access from the expressway and proximity to the Indiana border.
The need to take action
Village Attorney Matt Welch added that because the state has mandated that possession and private use of cannabis will be legal as of January 1, 2020, Lansing does need to take some kind of action. “If we do nothing,” said Welch, “there are no regulations; it’s going to be a permitted use. So it’s not something we can stick our head in the sand. It’s something that needs to be explored and figured out what’s in the best interest of this community.”
Welch listed some regulation scenarios the Trustees might consider. For example, if the Board agrees that limits should be put on cannabis dispensaries in Lansing, there are a number of ways to define such limits:
- Cannabis dispensaries could be limited to specific geographic zones.
- Cannabis dispensaries could be prohibited within a certain distance from other types of businesses (schools, for example).
- The Board could limit the total number of cannabis dispensaries permitted in the Village, as has been done with salons, massage parlors, and other types of businesses.
- The Board could require that cannabis sales require a special use permit.
In addition, according to state law, each municipality does have the right to decide to completely prohibit the sale of cannabis.
Impacting law enforcement
Attorney Welch also reported that the January 1 legalization of cannabis will impact law enforcement, particularly because there are currently no technologies in place that police can use to reliably determine whether someone is driving under the influence of cannabis. “There’s a lot of false positives with the current technologies,” Welch told the Board, “so what you’re left with is taking someone in for a blood test, which can tell whether it’s in your system, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you if you’re currently intoxicated.”
The Trustees asked a number of questions for clarification about available options and about the deadline by which a decision should be made. Welch provided answers and examples. At the end of approximately 20 minutes of discussion, Administrator Podgorski invited the Trustees to digest the information and then give feedback to himself or Attorney Welch.
Discussion continued at the December 3 Committee of the Whole meeting. Attorney Welch had provided Trustees with a sample ordinance adopted by another municipality prohibiting the issuance of a business license to any adult-use cannabis business establishment.
“No adult-use cannabis business establishment will be eligible to receive a business license,” explained Welch. “Therefore they will be ineligible to operate in the village.”
Adopting such an ordinance now would give Lansing Trustees additional time to consider and potentially develop more specific regulations about zoning or limits if they decide later to allow cannabis-related businesses within the village but want specified controls over the granting of licenses.
After a few more questions and answers, Trustee Saad Abbasy said, “To have time to sit on this and see how it shakes out, to see what our residents feel, to see what other villages experience—it seems like a wise approach.”
“I think this is a smart way for us to move,” agreed Administrator Podgorski. “Would the Board be comfortable having Attorney Welch draft a similar ordinance which would regulate the business licenses and prohibit the issuance of any business licenses for adult-use cannabis at this point in time? And then in a year, or 18 months, or two years, or whenever the Board feels it’s time to revisit the issue—if they feel that way—after some of the legislation settles in and we see how other municipalities are dealing with it, then the Board could take up the zoning issue at that point in time.”
With the Board’s assent, Podgorski and Welch agreed to work together on a Lansing version of an ordinance for Trustees to review.
Residents who would like to weigh in on the subject of cannabis—or any municipal matters—are invited to contact their representatives directly:
- Email Mayor Patty Eidam, or call 708-895-7208
- Email Administrator Podgorski, or call 708-895-7202
- Email Trustee Saad Abbasy, or call 708-832-4569
- Email Trustee Mike Fish, or call 708-832-4568
- Email Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich, or call 708-832-4563
- Email Trustee Brian Hardy, or call 708-832-4564
- Email Trustee Mike Manno, or call 708-832-4566
- Email Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust, or call 708-832-4570
Village Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings take place at the Municipal Court Complex (the police station) at 2710 170th Street on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17 at 7:00pm.