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Monday, February 17, 2020

City of Highland Park, Illinois Committee of the Whole met August 12

By Michael Abella | Sep 10, 2019

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City of Highland Park, Illinois Committee of the Whole met Aug. 12.

Here is the minutes provided by the committee:

CALL TO ORDER

At 6:01 PM, Mayor Rotering called the meeting to order and asked for a roll call.

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, Joel Fontane, Ashley Palbitska

Also Present: Corporation Counsel Steve Elrod, Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

A. Regular Meeting of the Committee of the Whole – July 8, 2019

Councilwoman Stone moved to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of the

Committee of the Whole held on July 8, 2019, as amended. Councilman Kaufman seconded the motion.

On a voice vote:

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

Voting Nay: None

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) setting a price to lease or sell property (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(6)). 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 6:02 PM, the Committee recessed the public portion of the meeting to meet in Closed Session.

At 6:18 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, Larry Amidei, Joel Fontane, Lou Jogmen, Ramesh Kanapareddy, Rob Sabo, Jon Lowman, Emily Taub, Ashley Palbitska

Also Present: Corporation Counsel Steve Elrod, Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman, Holland & Knight Counsel Stuart Weiss

SCHEDULED BUSINESS

Continued Recreational Cannabis Police Discussion

Corporation Counsel Elrod introduced Stuart Weiss, Counsel with Holland & Knight.

Community Development Director Fontane presented information on the consideration of whether or not to permit, by zoning, recreational cannabis dispensaries in the community.

Corporation Counsel Elrod summarized the actions taken by other suburban Chicago communities as it pertains to recreational cannabis dispensaries.

Councilwoman Stone stated that with the regulation of medical cannabis, there was a requirement that trucks drive in to the building. She asked if that would be the same for recreational cannabis.

Community Development Director Fontane said he was unsure of the regulation from a State level but the City’s regulation is that yes, they would have to drive their trucks into the building.

Counsel Weiss stated that it is not explicit in the State law but that communities should expect to see rules associated with the licensure.

Councilman Knobel explained that articles have claimed that it could be possible, in the future, for medical cannabis to be diminished by the sale of recreational cannabis, which would make the access to medical cannabis more difficult. She stated that she is not in favor of taking away the zoning for medical cannabis because there will people who will need to be able to obtain the product.

Community Development Director Fontane explained that the hospital zone is pretty tightly drawn because it is one entity.

Councilman Stolberg explained that he has put a lot of thought in to this and that his position has not changed from the last discussion in that he is not in favor of allowing the dispensing of recreational cannabis. He stated that the City was not given a choice when it came to medical cannabis but that it had to be allowed and that only zoning districts could be regulated. He stated that the only thing he can reasonably think how this type of use will benefit the City is sales tax revenue and that should not be a driver for allowing the use. He voiced concern regarding the business being solely a cash only business, even though there may be some State chartered banks that may allow for non-cash payments. He voiced concern of this type of use being allowed in the Skokie Valley Corridor because the amount of people that this use will serve will be 10 times the amount of the current medical dispensary. He stated that he does not really see the benefit to allowing it. He explained that he is not ultimately opposed to it forever, that if other municipalities in the area are able to effectively regulate it and it would be a benefit to the City, the Code could then be amended at that point to allow the use with specific regulations.

Councilman Kaufman stated that he too has put a lot of thought into this decision. He explained that the potential detriments outweigh the perceived and known benefits at this point. He stated that it is new and there is still so much unknown, that the City should monitor how it works out in other municipalities and then revisit it later. He agreed with Councilman Stolberg that it seems the only benefit at this point is sales tax revenue and that is not a strong enough reason to allow it.

Councilman Knobel stated that she has had very positive feedback that residents and businesses want recreational cannabis here. She explained that the businesses are asking for it because it will bring feet on the street and Highland Park could become a destination for recreational cannabis. She stated that she was in favor of giving the industry the opportunity to grow. She stated her understanding of the education aspect. She stated that the police will have to deal with the enforcement no matter where individuals are getting the product. She was in favor of giving the City some control as to where individuals are obtaining the product, where it is going and how it is coming into the City. She explained that the City regulates alcohol and should take that common sense approach to the regulation of recreational cannabis. She explained that the City already has good regulations in place for medical cannabis and there have not been any issues with it. She felt the City has the opportunity to regulate recreational cannabis in a way that works for the City. She stated that she is comfortable with the cash operations. She stated that she was in favor of sending it through to the Plan and Design Commission (“PDC”).

Mayor Rotering commented on Councilman Knobel’s comment about putting feet on the street and asked if she would allow it in the Central Business District.

Councilman Knobel stated that she would not locate such businesses in the Central Business District or Ravinia Business District because that the City’s current zoning does not allow

dispensaries near schools and schools exists near both of these districts. She stated that this type of business can be located in a different business district within the City that would still be within the proximity for people to visit restaurants and businesses within the Central Business District and Ravinia Business District.

Councilman Holleman explained that she agrees with what Councilman Knobel has stated. She identified what she was hearing was that people do not want recreational cannabis here but she reiterated that it is going to be here anyways. She understands that it is hard to wrap your head around something that has been illegal for so long that is now going to be legal. She stated that one thing that can be looked at is the fact that the City was also apprehensive about medical cannabis but it has not had a negative impact on the community. She stated that in her opinion, allowing a recreational license will support businesses in the community.

Councilwoman Stone was in agreement with Councilmen Knobel and Holleman. She stated that she believes the reason this was made legal in the State was to try and drive away the black market and stop people from buying from drug dealers on street corners or wherever else they are purchasing their products from. She explained that it was to make sure there was some control over the product and reduce the risk of products being laced with unknown substances. She stated that based on the information that has been provided to her plus other research, there has not been an increase in crime or any other issues that may come with this type of use.

Councilman Blumberg stated that there have been a lot of good points on both sides of the issue. He explained that he is leaning more towards not allowing the use and seeing how others approach the topic. He stated that most of the discussion that he has taken part in, either allowing it or opposing it, have centered around the legalization of cannabis and the issues that surround that. He stated that he was in favor of legalizing cannabis and does recognize the issues that need to be faced. He explained how enforcement issues are complicated and there may be an increase of low level crime. He stated that it is very unclear to him what the business impact will be for some of the uses that have been mentioned. He voiced his concern about how it is unclear to him what the problems may be but the City has the opportunity to see how other municipalities handle the use and learn from them.

Mayor Rotering explained that she does share in support of the Justice of Criminal Reform pieces of legalizing cannabis but she agrees with Councilmen Stolberg, Kaufman and Blumberg. She stated that she was curious to see what happens in the area because there are so many unknowns specific to the financial piece of this. She stated that she joined Councilmen Stolberg, Kaufman and Blumberg, who are opposed at this point.

Councilman Blumberg explained that the topic can be scheduled for a future Committee of the Whole meeting to review actions that have been taken by surrounding communities.

Councilmen Knobel, Holleman and Stone were in favor of moving this item forward to the PDC for a public hearing.

Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Blumberg, Kaufman and Stolberg were not in favor of moving this forward to the PDC for discussion but revisiting the question in the future.

The Committee and Corporation Counsel discussed next steps and the importance of reviewing the City Code.

OTHERS MATTERS

There was none.

ADJOURNMENT

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

The Committee of the Whole adjourned its meeting at 6:54 PM.

http://highlandparkil.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=12&ID=2249&Inline=True

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City of Highland Park