Utica to tackle legalized cannabis (again) later this year

Regulation, halted by the pandemic, back on the front burner

Would Utica admit a cannabis grower or dispensary? The village took up that question in late 2019, but the pandemic halted any action. Now, they’ll look at it anew.

Thursday, Utica officials said a public hearing will be held later this year to discuss whether to permit or prohibit cannabis businesses within village limits. A hearing date is pending. Notices will be published.

Mayor David Stewart said he wasn’t personally inclined to host a cannabis business, at least in the near future, “but I think we need something in the books.” Police Chief Rodney Damron agreed.

Village Attorney Herb Klein raised the issue in between meetings of the Utica Planning Commission and Village Board, noting the matter had been discussed but never acted upon. The problem was timing: The hearing was Dec. 5, 2019.

“Two months later the pandemic pretty much shut down public hearings and public meetings,” Klein said. “It’s time, I think, to revisit the issue in the late summer or the fall.”

Separately, the Bennett family was granted a plat of survey and got the OK to subdivide property located at 2958 Route 178. There, 1.25 acres of the Bennett farm will be sold to restaurateurs Ron and Amy McFarlain, who operate the Cajun Connection there.

“Everything is for sale,” Dee Bennett said when asked about future uses for the land. “We need to sell the farm so we don’t have the kids dealing with it.”

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.