River Forest not sold on selling cannabis

Zoning board hearing set for October

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By ROBERT J. LIFKA

Contributing Reporter

The possibility of legalized sales of recreational cannabis in River Forest continued to move slowly forward Sept. 9 when the village board voted to direct staff members to take steps toward proposing an amendment to the zoning ordinance.

The 5-0 vote was taken at the regular village board meeting that followed a committee of the whole meeting at which 11 residents provided input on the question. Trustee Tom Cargie did not attend either meeting.

Although the village board supported moving forward with the process, no trustee openly addressed the ultimate issue of allowing recreational cannabis business establishments in the village.

Trustee Bob O'Connell noted the action "doesn't commit us to anything," while Trustee Patty Henek referred to "starting with the framework" and Trustee Katie Brennan stated a desire to "move forward for further discussion."

Only six of the residents who spoke at the committee of the whole meeting stated an opinion on allowing cannabis business establishments with four opposing and two supporting. 

Two of the other speakers had questions for police Chief Jim O'Shea and three advised the village board to study the issue thoroughly and move forward cautiously. Several even suggested delaying a decision until after other municipalities have legalized cannabis business establishments or "let other communities experiment," as Robert Zeh said.  

The next step in the process will be a public hearing at the zoning board of appeals meeting on Thursday Oct. 10.

In response to a question from Ellen Liebner, O'Shea acknowledged that police do not have a test similar to a breathalyzer to determine if a driver's impairment is caused by marijuana. However, he noted that efforts are underway to identify such a test, including in Carol Stream.

Responding to a question from Mary Ann Zeh, O'Shea said no state or county law currently exists that would allow prosecution of parents who host a party for underage youths where marijuana was being used similar to laws addressing parties for underage youth where alcohol was served. However, he noted the village would have the opportunity to approve such a local ordinance. 

In opposing allowing cannabis business establishments, Liita Forsyth said she "does not see anything good coming out of it." Barb Lehner, who identified herself as a bicyclist, said she did not want to see "any more reasons for impaired drivers to run me off the road."

Ingrid Liu, who identified herself as an Oak Park physician, urged the village board to "make a decision on facts, not fear." She also said she believes alcohol is a "far more dangerous and destructive substance" than marijuana.

In response to comments from Carolyn Kilbride citing outcomes in Colorado after that state legalized recreational marijuana, village President Cathy Adduci cautioned against comparing legislation in Illinois to that in Colorado, noting the Illinois legislation is more restrictive.   

Addressing concerns expressed regarding the potential number of cannabis business establishments in the village, Lisa Scheiner, assistant village administrator, said only 47 licenses will be issued in River Forest's region, which includes Chicago and extends as far west as Elgin.

Village Administrator Eric Palm addressed concerns expressed regarding potential traffic and parking problems associated with cannabis business establishments by noting that each applicant would be required to apply for a special use variation. Not only would the application trigger traffic and parking studies, he said, but it also would require a public hearing, at which neighbors would be able to share their concerns.

Issues to be discussed at the Oct. 10 zoning board meeting will include allowing cannabis dispensaries and craft growers operating as a special use in the C1, C2, C3 and ORIC Zoning Districts; prohibiting cannabis cultivation centers, processing organizations and transporting organizations operating in the C1, C2, C3 and ORIC Zoning Districts; allowing medical cannabis dispensaries as a special use in the C1, C2, C3, and ORIC Zoning Districts; allowing medical cannabis cultivation centers as a special use in the  C1, C2, C3, and ORIC Zoning Districts; and prohibiting consumption of cannabis on the premises of any cannabis business establishment.

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

5 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 17th, 2019 10:49 AM

I wish River Forest would consider the immorality of their Red Light camera cash grabs this much.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 15th, 2019 8:16 PM

So "old butt hurt people" are the "only haters" who will oppose legalized rec pot, huh, Amani? Couple things (and what ever the hell "butt hurt" means, I'm just fine if you keep that ensconced in her own imaginative head) you clearly harbor just a wee bit of hate yourself. And two, speaking as someone who came of age in the "upper mid 1900s," I can tell you with certainty that a whole lotta folk favored marijuana, legal or not. Get woke, kid.

Amani Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2019 7:34 PM

The only haters of this process is old butt hurt people that was raised in the upper mid 1900s through hateful times. It's about to be 2020. Fall in love with the changes and newness of life being brought upon us. It's ok to sell alcohol and cigarettes tho?

Tom Leeds  

Posted: September 12th, 2019 5:14 PM

Is that sarcasm or are you a hater of said church? There are places in River Forest it could be sold.

Mindy Credi  

Posted: September 11th, 2019 10:03 AM

Here's a great idea. Let's sell pot along with alcohol across from the school and Church at Lake and Lathrop.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad