Crystal Lake to allow marijuana growers, other related businesses in its city limits

City already allowed dispensaries but had given itself a year to revisit topic

The Crystal Lake City Council decided to allow more kinds of recreational marijuana businesses, such as craft growers and cultivation centers, within city limits at its meeting Tuesday.

Before the state legalized recreational marijuana for anyone 21 and older, the City Council voted in 2019 to allow adult-use dispensaries in its general commercial, or B-2, zoning districts, with a 500-foot buffer for certain uses, such as schools and day cares, and a 200-foot buffer for residential uses.

Other marijuana-related businesses, including craft growers, cultivation centers for recreational use, infusers and other processors and transporters, did not receive this same approval at that time.

However now, after Tuesday’s vote, these other businesses will be allowed in the manufacturing districts. Cultivation centers and craft growers will also be allowed in the watershed district.

Community Development Director Michelle Rentzsch said the city has not received any applications from people interested in opening a dispensary. Council members emphasized at the meeting that Crystal Lake is not relying on marijuana sales for tax revenue or to balance the city’s budget.

Like dispensaries, other marijuana businesses will have to have the same 500-foot buffer in place for schools, day cares and certain other uses, but the buffer was bumped up to 500 feet for residential for nondispensaries because they would be considered manufacturing uses, Rentzsch said.

For any marijuana business, all special use permit criteria would need to be in place and followed, including the prohibition of any dust, fumes, vapors or odors that affect neighboring premises or properties, Rentzsch said.

A few residents expressed concern over the potential of more kinds of recreational marijuana businesses coming to the city. One man suggested the council put out a referendum asking residents what they think about the subject, while one woman said the last thing Crystal Lake needs is “more openness for this kind of stuff,” especially around children.

Council members and village officials pointed out, though, that all kinds of marijuana businesses are very heavily regulated, with high security and very little chance of youth being exposed to these facilities.

“The likelihood that someone underage is able to get inside the doors is very minimal,” council member Ian Philpot said. “And there’s a lot of, not just security, but cameras and everything to protect it.”

Council member Mandy Montford, speaking in favor of the proposal, said allowing these kinds of marijuana businesses in Crystal Lake would give the city the opportunity to help regulate an industry that had not been regulated, and keep illegal and unregulated substances out of the hands of minors.

Another aspect brought up in the city’s decision to allow more than just dispensaries was potential job creation.

Philpot, in looking at other cities that allow dispensaries, said he has found that they don’t have any other kinds of marijuana business establishments.

“It could be an opportunity for Crystal Lake to be a location where those businesses could go to create jobs,” he said. “As far as craft growers are concerned, there are a lot of people who have lost their jobs and entrepreneurs looking to start something new for themselves. If they’re having trouble finding work, then that could be an opportunity for them to get a hold of the license and start something new.”

Council member Brett Hopkins was the only one who voted against the measure.

Acknowledging that he was an “outlier” in his views, Hopkins said his concerns are about the unknown impacts of having different kinds of marijuana businesses in the community.

Especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, the city is not pressed to make a decision on this issue.

“There’s no urgency at this point in time,” Hopkins said.

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.