Lake County Gazette

Lake County Gazette

Monday, December 9, 2019

City of Highland Park Committee of the Whole met July 8

By Kristine Gonzales-Abella | Aug 14, 2019

Meet

City of Highland Park Committee of the Whole met July 8.

Here is the minutes provided by the committee:

ROLL CALL

Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Members Absent: None

Mayor Rotering declared a quorum was present.

Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Emily Taub, Jennifer Houtz-Menzies, Ashley Palbitska

Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

A. Regular Meeting of the Committee of the Whole – June 24, 2019

Councilman Stolberg moved to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of the Committee of the Whole held on June 24, 2019. Councilman Blumberg seconded the motion.

On a voice vote:

Voting Yea: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Voting Nay: None

Present: Councilman Kaufman

Abstain: Councilwoman Stone

Mayor Rotering declared the motion passed.

CLOSED SESSION

Councilman Blumberg moved the Committee close its meeting to the public, pursuant to the following cited sections of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/2(c)), for the purposes of i) approval of closed session minutes (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(21)); ii) pending litigation (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(11)); and iii) collective bargaining (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(2)). Councilwoman Stone seconded the motion.

On a roll call vote:

Voting Yea: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Voting Nay: None

Mayor Rotering declared the motion passed unanimously.

At 4:32 PM, the Committee recessed the public portion of the meeting to meet in Closed Session.

At 5:05 PM, Mayor Rotering reconvened the open session of the Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Members Absent: None

City Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Joel Fontane, Ashley Palbitska

Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman

CLOSED SESSION

Councilwoman Stone moved the Committee close its meeting to the public, pursuant to the following cited sections of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/2(c)), for the purpose of potential litigation (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(11)). Councilman Blumberg seconded the motion.

On a roll call vote:

Voting Yea: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Voting Nay: None

Mayor Rotering declared the motion passed unanimously.

At 5:03 PM, the Committee recessed the public portion of the meeting to meet in Closed Session.

At 5:46 PM, Mayor Rotering reconvened the open session of the Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman

Members Absent: None

City Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Joel Fontane, Lou Jogmen, Ramesh Kanapareddy, Rob Sabo, Ashley Palbitska

Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman, Holland & Knight Counsel Stuart Weiss, SWALCO Executive Director Walter Willis, Lakeshore Recycling Systems Managing Partner Josh Connell, Lakeshore Recycling Systems Municipal Manager Bill Kenney

SCHEDULED BUSINESS

Spring Clean Up 2019 Post Program Report

Assistant City Manager Sabo provided a report on the City’s Spring Clean Up program and requested feedback on any changes that should be made to the program.

Councilman Knobel stated that there has been an overwhelming preference to continue Spring Cleanup. She didn’t want to punish those individuals that were in favor of spring cleanup because of a few violators but recommended looking into ways to cite those few violators that come through the City during this time. She asked if the timing of spring cleanup could be moved back or moved forward if there was the possibility to shorten the timeframe of spring cleanup to accommodate the snow birds or other residents that would like to see it moved forward. She stated that she likes the idea of shortening the time to three weeks and would like to continue to offer spring cleanup to the residents. She thanked SWALCO for their informational website and recommended that City staff review the information that is available on the City’s website and provide clearer information as it relates to disposal of items.

Councilman Holleman stated that her communication regarding spring cleanup has been positive and would recommend continuing the program. She explained that the community is very use to the timing of the program and voiced concerns about pushing the pick-up to June. She stated that two weeks would be great but three weeks may be difficult due to having to divide the City into three different weekends. She explained that there would be no financial benefit for eliminating the program and it would be difficult to explain to the community that the service was to be eliminated but they wouldn’t be gaining anything in return.

Councilman Kaufman confirmed that he, too, has received positive feedback about the program and requested that there be better communication and the possibility of shortening the timeframe.

Lakeshore Recycling Systems Managing Director Josh Connell stated that Lakeshore Recycling Systems (“LRS”) has been very flexible with picking up the debris that is not approved for the spring cleanup but in the future, that won’t be the case.

Councilman Blumberg stated that he has had the same positive response from the community. He asked if other communities who provide a spring cleanup have the same issues the City does regarding the non-approved items.

Mr. Connell stated that there are only a few communities that participate in a spring cleanup event but because Highland Park is a larger community and the communication is great, there are a lot of people that know when it will be taking place. He explained that the cleanup event in Glencoe seems to be quieter than Highland Park and only runs one day and that day changes every year, whereas Highland Park’s event is more predictable.

SWALCO Executive Director Walter Willis stated that he hears about Highland Park’s event more than other communities.

Councilman Stolberg stated that he, too, has heard positive feedback about spring cleanup. He explained that, even though there is a lot of debris put out for the cleanup, not all of it makes it into the trucks because of the pickers, scrappers or local residents that reclaim the items. He recommended better communication regarding those items that will not be picked up during spring cleanup. He stated that there are a lot of benefits to the program and the City should continue to move forward with it.

Councilwoman Stone asked if there were a lot of recyclables still being put out.

Mr. Connell stated that pickers do come through and get the good stuff like metal but there are a lot cardboard boxes because it is easy for residents to pack things in those boxes as well as rigid plastics like old toys.

Councilwoman Stone asked if maybe the timing of the spring cleanup could be changed to the fall to possibly alleviate some of the issues that are currently causing problems.

The Committee discussed modifying the cleanup date to fall. The Committee was not in favor of moving cleanup to fall.

Mayor Rotering stated that she heard from a few individuals that they were requesting the Police Department drive around and stop people from trashing their yards. She explained that if it were possible to shorten the timeframe, it may alleviate some of the fly dumping issues. She stated that she would prefer it to be shortened.

Councilman Holleman discussed fly dumping and how the amount of items getting picked up has been pretty consistent every year; there have not been huge spikes in the amount of items. She stated that she would be in favor of more ticketing of the violators and once clearer communication regarding items that were not going to be picked up was provided, some of these issues may be eliminated.

Councilwoman Stone asked if the numbers for the amount of trash that is picked up every spring included the once per week bulk item pickup as well.

Mr. Connell explained that the numbers do not include the once per week bulk pick up and that service has been offered since the contract was in place in 2016. He stated that he would review the feasibility of changing the timeframe of the spring cleanup event to two days instead of four.

Councilman Blumberg asked if there was any way to note who the contractors are if there is a lot of construction debris put out.

LRS Municipal Manager Bill Kenney stated it was difficult to decipher but Highland Park residents are the best recyclers LRS works with.

Mayor Rotering asked Police Chief Jogmen if there have been any reported issues.

Police Chief Jogmen explained that he has talked to staff regarding the concerns and nothing has really been reported.

The Committee and Assistant City Manager Sabo discussed the twice per week pickup service through LRS.

Mayor Rotering stated that there is support to consolidate the timing to two days.

City Manager Neukirch confirmed and stated that the second question is if the Committee was interested in pushing back from the April start date.

The Committee was in agreement that if the event could be completed in two weeks, then yes, it would be beneficial to change the April start date to May. They discussed waiting to hear back on the feasibility of moving spring cleanup to two days.

State Recreational Cannabis Report & Policy Questions

Stuart Weiss, Counsel with Holland and Knight, presented highlights of the approved bill, information regarding the Red Flag Resolution that is on the City Council agenda and requested feedback from the Committee of several policy questions.

Mayor Rotering and Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman discussed the adjudication process for underage consumption of cannabis.

Mayor Rotering stated that there is the Red Flag Resolution on the City Council agenda but there really hasn’t been much discussion regarding the newly passed bill.

Counsel Weiss stated that the resolution itself says that the City is going to schedule a public hearing and the discussion taking place tonight will serve as an informal guideline for the Plan and Design Commission (“PDC”). He explained that there is nothing that needs to be amended in the resolution, it is very mutually written and states “go forth and conduct a public hearing”. He provided direction on the guiding questions that will assist the Committee in providing an outline to the PDC that they will have to opine on before it is sent back to the Council for recommended amendments.

Mayor Rotering explained that the Committee should review the questions to provide a top down philosophical decision on how the PDC should conduct their public hearing.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman explained how that was the intent and that Counsel Weiss was presenting a full review of what is in the law and provide context on how the City is operating. He stated that the PDC does need to have a hearing because it involves zoning amendments and the Red Flag Resolution is just meant to get the process started. He explained

that it was important to do this to stay ahead of the curve, and what is discussed will be directed to the PDC for the public hearing.

Mayor Rotering asked about the federal financial piece and if it will be all cash sales.

Counsel Weiss stated that there are two State charter banks that do provide banking services for the facilities through an app similar to Venmo or a cash app that is proprietary to that bank that accepts ETF transfers. He explained that the facilities are trying to get away from cash but there are no nationally chartered banks available at this time.

Mayor Rotering asked for clarification as to how licensing will work for the current medical dispensary in Highland Park.

Counsel Weiss explained that from a State licensing perspective, the license is almost automatic because it is presumed the current dispensaries are in good standing, they have all of the necessary inventory controls and security that was put into the Medical Act. He stated that the one thing that is not in there is that they prove that they have local zoning approval for a secondary, new location; they would have to show proof of zoning approval or they are working with a community to get zoning approval.

Councilman Holleman asked what the process was going to be for these amendments because in the past, there has been a long review process for significant Code amendments and even though the City is up against a January 1, 2020 deadline, if there was a broader, different way to review the amendments.

Mayor Rotering stated that she agreed and would like to be able to have a thoughtful conversation about the topic.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman reassured the Committee that the PDC does not have to conduct a public hearing next month and have the regulations adopted in August. He explained that the resolution is meant to protect the City in case there is an enterprise that would be a recreational cannabis business trying to exploit some hole in the City Code; it is recommended to help protect the City in case there is a business out there attempting to do that. He stated that once the resolution has been adopted, there is some time to consider how the City would like to move forward. He stated that it would be beneficial to have regulations amended before January 1, 2020. He explained that if the Committee needed a little bit of time to discuss this topic, that was within their right but that the PDC would have to move a little faster in proposing the recommended changes. He stated that if the City wants any of these types of businesses to operate locally, it would be important to communicate that earlier, rather than later because these types of businesses are not going to go where they are not wanted and will be looking for the easier paths now.

Counsel Weiss explained that the resolution states that PDC will schedule a public hearing within 90 days and that number could be amended to 120 if need be.

Mayor Rotering reiterated that the purpose the resolution on the agenda is to state that the City is going to be reviewing regulations and businesses should not apply before that opportunity has been afforded.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman explained that it closes the loop holes that may be present in the current Code.

City Manager Neukirch explained, that with the help of Holland and Knight, staff has reviewed the policy questions that the City is allowed to consider by State law. She stated that for each question, City staff does believe there is an underlying zoning ordinance that may help guide in amending the current Code. She stated that as the Committee reviews what kind of policy direction they want to provide, it is noted that there is already the groundwork available for zoning text amendments.

Councilman Stolberg stated that it can be further limited in the zoning districts with the distance requirement.

Councilman Kaufman stated that the resolution does state that the PDC would need to hold a public hearing within 90 days and asked if there could be verbiage added that would provide direction to the PDC that they would not hold the public hearing until they received direction from the City Counsel.

The Committee was in consensus to add the verbiage into the resolution.

Councilman Blumberg stated that he would like to change the timeframe to 120 days but asked if time can be extended in the future if extra time is needed for review and discussion.

Councilman Holleman asked why a specific number had to be in the resolution and if the PDC could hold a public hearing after Council has provided direction.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman stated that he would recommend it because the purpose is stopping a business from sneaking in, in a way the City does not want it to. He explained that it is only a requirement that the PDC start their hearing, not finish their process. He confirmed that if the timing doesn’t allow for a full discussion and the Committee feels more time is needed, it can be extended even farther. He noted that it is less than six months before someone is going to start selling recreational marijuana and 120 days from now is early October; the PDC needs a little bit of time to review the direction and then have their recommendation come back before the City Council.

Councilman Blumberg stated that he would be comfortable with the 90 days, with the knowledge that the time can be extended. He opined on having a schedule in place in order to get the Committee’s recommendation and direction to the PDC, allow them to review and make amendments and then allow for City Council review.

Mayor Rotering stated that 120 days would actually be November. Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman confirmed that correction.

Councilman Knobel noted that she had a preference of 90 days and would like to see a timeline from staff as to when the recommendation would be brought before the Council.

City Manager Neukirch explained that staff was comfortable with the 90 days and staff is ready to provide the Committee their recommendations.

Mayor Rotering explained that there was a lot of discussion surrounding the medical marijuana dispensary, so this would not be reinventing the wheel.

Community Development Director Fontane explained that due to the short time period, the recommendations can be adopted and then later amended if need be. He stated that the recommendation is to stay close to what is already in place for the medical marijuana and then go from there. He noted that the first important question is if the City should even allow this type of use and then, where and how many would be the three big questions that would need to be answered before moving forward with discussions.

Councilman Stolberg was in agreement with Community Development Director Fontane in that the Committee needs to decide if they want to make this an allowable use. He explained that the City has already done a lot of the work on the medical side but the decision needs to be made if this is something the City wants to allow. He noted that when discussions were had about medical marijuana, there was not a large turn out or opposition to it during the PDC public hearings because the term medical was attached to it but now that this will become recreational, there may be much more resident input and concern. He stated that his biggest concern right now is enforcement but the biggest question is if this should even be an allowable use.

Mayor Rotering stated that she believed Lake Bluff and Lake Forest were not going to allow for the dispensing of recreational marijuana. She asked if the dispensing of recreational marijuana should be allowed within the City.

Councilman Stolberg stated that he would prefer not to allow the dispensing of recreational marijuana. He explained that when medical was approved by the state, municipalities could only regulate where the businesses could be located but there was no ability to outright ban the use. He stated that if the option is available to outright ban the use, he would be in favor of banning it.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman asked for clarification if Councilman Stolberg meant banning the option of having the dispensary.

Councilman Stolberg stated that was correct, he would be in favor of banning a dispensary.

Councilman Knobel noted that she is generally in favor of allowing the sale of recreational cannabis as it is smart, forward thinking and in line with what the City’s constituents want. She stated that she was in favor of putting regulations in place now, that keeping it out of the Central Business District would make sense and the need to apply what has been learned from how alcohol is regulated; this is the common sense approach. She noted that she was in favor of sending this through to the PDC for public feedback before making a final determination.

Councilman Holleman was in agreement with Councilman Knobel. She explained that there is a demand, people will partake in recreational marijuana and the question is, are we sending residents to other communities to make the purchase.

Councilman Blumberg stated that it is nice to be able to regulate the dispensary and allow for the generation of taxable income but he requested more information from other states that have allowed dispensing and sales. He explained that he wanted to understand what the downsides may be, has it created areas within communities to become less desirable, or does it generate other business in conjunction with the dispensing. He stated that he was undecided at this point and open to learn more about how it has affected other communities in other states.

Councilman Kaufman agreed with Councilman Blumberg. He stated that he needed more information on the effects this has had on other states but he is open to moving forward with the discussion.

Mayor Rotering asked if there was other more specific information that is being requested.

Councilman Blumberg stated that the question he has immediately is whether dispensaries generate a certain kind of traffic and ancillary low level criminal activity that makes the area around the dispensary undesirable for other businesses and if there is an adverse effect on homeownership. He noted that the question about banking has been answered slightly.

Councilwoman Stone stated that she wanted to learn more about impaired driving.

Counsel Weiss stated that this is something that Colorado has struggled with because the places where you can consume marijuana are highly limited and there has been the discussion as to whether or not it is causing damaging impacts on selling it in a community or not. He noted that Holland and Knight would be happy to work with staff on providing the information that is being requested because there are currently a lot of studies taking place on the impacts these types of uses have on communities.

The Committee and Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman discussed the need to have Ravinia Festival Association part of this discussion because there have been issues in the past.

Councilman Kaufman suggested hearing the input from the Police Chief regarding the impacts this has on communities or will have on communities.

Police Chief Jogmen stated that there is not a field test available but the recommendation was to have more DRE Officers available. He explained that the City has two officers but it takes 18 weeks to complete the training and it is very challenging.

City Manager Neukirch explained that those challenges are going to exist whether or not there is a recreational dispensary in Highland Park.

Councilman Stolberg asked, if the challenges will still be present and besides collecting sales tax, what is the benefit of having a dispensary in Highland Park.

Councilman Holleman stated that presumably the City will be able to collect the revenue from the sales to offset the costs for acquiring the needed training for Police Officers; there would be some kind of revenue recapture.

Councilman Kaufman explained that it might be tolerated because of the sales tax revenue and requested information to understand if it would be a positive source of revenue.

City Manager Neukirch stated that there will be some revenue but staff cannot confirm how much. She explained that the municipalities that are opting out do not receive any revenue but those that do, will receive revenue that can assist with training, enforcement and education.

Counsel Weiss explained that there will be law enforcement grants available to all communities through the State’s revenue that will be generated and that the State has done an admirable job in downplaying the revenue income aspect of allowing recreational marijuana use.

Mayor Rotering asked if any of the types of uses should be allowed in Highland Park. Councilman Stolberg asked for more information as to what a craft grower would entail.

Counsel Weiss explained that a craft grower would be a mini cultivation center and retail store front where there would be a wall in between the two uses. He explained that infusers and processers would be similar to commercial kitchens.

Councilwoman Stone stated that dispensaries would be viable and not the other uses being proposed.

Councilman Knobel and Counsel Weiss discussed how there will be law enforcement grants that will be available to all communities whether they opt in or opt out of allowing dispensaries in their communities.

Councilwoman Knobel and City Manager Neukirch discussed earmarking the City’s potential revenue for specific items like training and education.

Councilman Holleman compared infusers and processors to distilleries and would request that those uses be approached from a zoning perspective. She stated that she is not ready to make a definitive decision as to which types of uses should or should not be allowed.

Mayor Rotering opined on treating this type of use similar to how liquor has been regulated.

Counsel Weiss explained that if the Committee will reconvene at another meeting, none of the questions need to be answered right now.

Mayor Rotering and Police Chief Jogmen discussed if there was a way to get information about safety impacts.

City Manager Neukirch explained that the next Committee of the Whole meeting will be July 22nd and then the next meeting after that will be August 26th.

The Committee was in consensus to bring this back for discussion at the July 22nd meeting.

OTHERS MATTERS

There was none.

ADJOURNMENT

Councilman Kaufman moved to adjourn. Councilwoman Stone seconded the motion. On a voice vote, the Mayor declared the motion passed unanimously.

The Committee of the Whole adjourned its meeting at 7:25 PM.

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City of Highland Park Committee of the Whole