McHenry City Council to consider marijuana infuser facility

A marijuana infuser facility was proposed for 3900 Mercy Drive in McHenry. The property is currently zoned for office and sits east of the Mercy McHenry Medical Center and west of homes on Amberwood Place.

A marijuana infusion facility that would sell products wholesale to medical and recreational dispensaries and has the support of a state senator from Chicago who once ran for mayor is looking to open in McHenry.

A vote on whether to approve the special use requested by the Chicago-based LLC Future of the Leaf Infusers is set to take place during Monday’s regular City Council meeting.

The company is asking to operate in the area originally zoned for office space at 3900 Mercy Drive. The approval of a special-use permit would allow for a commercial kitchen the business needs to make edibles.

Last month, the McHenry Planning and Zoning Commission gave its blessing at a public hearing and recommended the city approve the request. At that meeting, no one from the public spoke, but City Planner Cody Sheriff said one resident had inquired about the smell the business could produce.

Sheriff told the commission that the state has strict guidelines on odors, and those will be followed.

Although the location was slated for office use, the designation change to light manufacturing wouldn’t negatively affect the city, Sheriff said.

“The benefit here is that it could help us attract cannabis dispensaries,” Sheriff said.

He added that because of recent changes in the workforce culture, the request to change the conditions for the space makes sense. The trends, he said, are that less office space is being needed as more people are working from home, in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, identified in meeting minutes as an agent for Future of the Leaf Infusers, told the commissioners that the business holds one of the 28 licenses approved by the state, but that license is conditioned on the kitchen being approved.

Van Pelt told the Northwest Herald on Friday that she was acting as a facilitator to help the company file the petition with the city, and she has no other affiliation with the business.

The business’ principal office, as reported to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, is the same address as the Ambassadors for Christ World Outreach Ministries’, according to the Illinois Attorney General Office’s charitable trust database and the church’s website.

Joseph L. Stanford, the pastor of the church, donated almost $300,000 to Van Pelt’s Chicago mayoral campaign in 2011, according to records filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Van Pelt was one of the founders of the church before she became involved in politics, according to a 2005 Chicago Tribune article. The church’s first home was her basement.

In the contribution filing, Stanford also listed an address that is the same as the one Van Pelt listed for her state Senate campaign committee in 2019, and Ambassadors for Christ would be the recipient of any leftover campaign donations should Van Pelt’s committee close.

Joseph L. Stanford Sr. also is listed as an agent for Future of the Leaf Infusers.

An attempt to reach Stanford on Friday was unsuccessful.

In 2019, Van Pelt was removed as a co-sponsor of the bill to legalize recreational marijuana after the CBS affiliate WCIA reported she was selling tickets to seminars in which she offered investment tips on marijuana stocks, the CBS affiliate WMBD reported.