No to marijuana craft grower, says Sycamore City Council amid tightened municipal weed regulations

Updated city regulations render weed proposal unfit for proposed location due to proximity to Sycamore Middle School

A plethora of Sycamore residents attended the April 17, 2023 Sycamore City Council meeting. During the meeting City Council members voted 6-1 to change the city's Unified Development Ordinance. That change meant a special permit request to operate a marijuana craft grower facility at 421 North California street by Chris Mayer and Arney Silvestri was not longer within compliance of the city's code.

SYCAMORE – A proposed marijuana craft grower facility was barred from further pursuing a Sycamore city permit after the Sycamore City Council this week voted to change city code, rendering the proposed location unfit for the business.

Chris Mayer and Arney Silvestri of 421 California Partners, LLC declined to comment after the April 17 Sycamore City Council meeting ended their attempt to establish a marijuana craft grower facility at 421 N. California St. in Sycamore. The petitioners already had required a state license to operate and were seeking a local license to open up shop locally.

“They did what they did,” Silvestri said.

City documents show the marijuana product would have been grown indoors before being packaged and sold to dispensaries in accordance with the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

Two votes were before the council Monday, one for the California Partners LLC permit request, and a second to amend the Sycamore city code to establish updated parameters that a marijuana business could establish operation within city limits.

The city of Sycamore does not have a recreational marijuana dispensary or other related businesses in the city. Sycamore’s city code hasn’t been updated regarding cannabis since the drug was first approved for medical use in 2014, documents show.

“We’re not the moral police, I know that, Mayor, that’s what you’ve said before, ‘We’re not the moral police,’ but people in Sycamore are telling you they don’t want it.”

—  Ward 3 Alderperson Nancy Copple

Silvestri addressed crime concerns and other considerations brought before Sycamore’s Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month. The petitioner offered assurances that the business would follow state and local law which carry strict stipulations about operation, use and sale of recreational marijuana.

Third Ward Alderwoman Nancy Copple said she received seven calls and texts from constituents who were in favor of the proposed marijuana craft grower facility, but 17 more who voiced opposition to the proposal.

Copple said those constituents in favor told her they don’t see any difference between a marijuana craft grower and craft brewery, and that the business would provide extra tax revenue for the city. A proposed agreement between petitioners and the city of Sycamore, if approved, would have established a percentage of the business’ revenue to go to supporting the city’s fire and police departments.

FILE - This Feb. 1, 2011 file photo shows medical marijuana clone plants at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Schaumburg, Ill. officials are discussing how the village will pay for governmental costs associated with a potential medical marijuana dispensary. ( AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Those opposed voiced concerns about the recreational drug.

”That’s seven people pro,” Copple said. “I’ve had 17 people against, and they are [like], ‘Not a fan. Yikes, don’t like the idea. No way. No. Best to go outside of city limits. I don’t like where the location is.’ ”

Copple said she also received emails from seven residents voicing opposition.

”I’m thinking as a community the people are – not that I’m against you guys, you guys are great people, wonderful – but the idea of cannabis in Sycamore is not being a good thing,” Copple told the petitioners. “We’re not the moral police. I know that. Mayor, that’s what you’ve said before. ‘We’re not the moral police,’ but people in Sycamore are telling you they don’t want it.”

The change in city code came at the recommendation and motion by 2nd Ward Alderman Chuck Stowe. His proposal was supported by the City Council in a 6-1 vote. Second Ward Alderman Pete Paulsen was the lone no vote. Fourth Ward Alderwoman Virginia Sherrod was absent from the meeting.

The change amended Sycamore municipal code to prohibit marijuana craft growers from setting up a business closer than 2,500 feet from schools or daycares. The proximity also is stipulated for marijuana cultivation centers and recreational dispensaries in Sycamore.

Previous amendment proposals had asked for a 1,500-foot buffer between such businesses and schools or daycares.

Neither a cultivation center nor a craft grower facility sells marijuana to the public. Only a dispensary – which has a myriad of other rules and regulations – can do that.

Before the council voted on Stowe’s amendment, City Manager Michael Hall told council members if the amendment passed it would mean the craft grower permit request would no longer be compliant with the city’s ordinance and could no longer be voted on.

The DeKalb City Council recently approved its first recreational marijuana dispensary set to go in downtown DeKalb. The dispensary will be preliminary women-led and is set to open by Corn Fest this year. The recreational shop is the first of its kind to set up in DeKalb County.

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. April 20, 2023 to correct an earlier version that incorrectly stated Nancy Copple’s ward on Sycamore City Council. It is Ward 3.

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