December 03, 2021
McHenry County


Crystal Lake City Council votes for dispensary limit

The Crystal Lake City Council approved a recommendation limiting the number of marijuana dispensaries to two within city limits at its meeting Tuesday.

Council members passed an ordinance in October allowing dispensaries in the city.

At a previous City Council meeting, staff was asked to research limiting cannabis dispensaries. According to an agenda supplement, staff found that it is difficult to qualify for a dispensary license in Illinois and meet the state’s social equity requirements, and dispensaries that have been established are generating revenue that far exceeds original estimates.

“Currently, the cannabis companies are looking for heavily traveled interstate crossroads and other such high-volume roadways,” according to the agenda supplement. “For the foreseeable future, the likelihood of Crystal Lake considering more than one special use permit petition for a dispensary is small.”

Council members on Tuesday were given three options: keep current regulations allowing any number of dispensaries meeting special use permit criteria, limiting dispensaries within city limits to two, or limiting dispensaries to one.

“To me, I don’t think we should limit it to one, but I do think we should limit it to two,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said, adding that he doesn’t think the city will get any dispensaries if they don’t. “I think we have a reasonable chance of attracting at least one dispensary if we limit it to two.”

After marijuana was legalized in Illinois, the city was approached by entities that expressed interest in locating in Crystal Lake.

Shepley said these potential dispensaries have asked for the limitations.

“Certainly, they would prefer it,” he said.

Council member Ellen Brady said she is perfectly fine limiting the amount of marijuana retailers in the city to two, although she doesn’t see why a dispensary would want to open in a place that already has one.

“I don’t know that we’re going to have to do anything to stop two or three from coming to Crystal Lake,” Brady said. “They’re going to want to strategically locate themselves so that they get their bang for their buck.”

However, Brady added that if that’s what is necessary to make businesses feel comfortable to come to Crystal Lake, she is OK with the limitations.

Council member Haig Haleblian said that as a business person, he has a problem limiting the opportunity for someone to come in and “give it a roll,” so he was not in favor of limiting cannabis dispensaries in the city to one “at all,” although he would not mind limiting them to two.

The City Council voted unanimously to recommend limiting the amount of dispensaries to two to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The commission will now consider an amendment to Crystal Lake’s unified development ordinance, and it will come back to the City Council for approval.

Any marijuana business wanting to come to Crystal Lake would have to apply for a special use permit.

“Even one would be decided on a case-by-base basis,” Shepley said. “It’s very similar to the process that we follow with liqour licenses.”

Shepley said it is “hard telling” whether Crystal Lake would even get a dispensary. Although the mayor maintains his position that he is not happy that Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, he says under the circumstances, he would welcome one in the city.

“I hope that one will locate here because it will have a good financial benefit for our taxpayers,” Shepley said. “If you look at all of the reports about how much sales tax revenue ... this is generating, even since January, these are eye-popping numbers. It’s an incredible sum of money.”