Joliet eyes looser zoning for cannabis shops

Distance between dispensaries and homes would be reduced to 50 feet under proposal

Joliet plans to reduce the required distance between cannabis dispensaries and houses to accommodate cannabis dispensaries looking at locations on Jefferson Street.

The city has proposed reducing the required distance been the dispensaries and residential property to 50 feet.

The Joliet Plan Commission will consider the proposal when it meets at 4 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.

The city set a 250-foot distance between cannabis shops and residentially zoned property in 2019 when it approved recreational marijuana sales in Joliet.

Several newly state-licensed cannabis operators have been looking for locations in Joliet but had a hard time finding spots that met the 250-foot buffer zone, Director of Economic Development Derek Conley said.

“It seemed to be a lot on Jefferson Street,” Conley said. “That seemed to be the area they were looking at.”

Conley said a review of other communities found Joliet’s 250-foot buffer to be longer than most and 50 feet was fairly common.

Two dispensaries, both owned by the same company, now operate in Joliet.

While cannabis dispensaries are not permitted in areas zoned for residential, many Joliet commercial corridors, including Jefferson Street, border neighborhoods with homes located directly behind the businesses.

Cannabis dispensaries are allowed in the downtown area, general business districts, and industrial areas zoned B-2, B-3, I-1 and I-2.

The proposed zoning change would “enable more opportunities for cannabis dispensaries to locate” in those areas, according to the staff memo to the Plan Commission.

Joliet would continue to require a prospective dispensary operator get a special use permit approved by the City Council before it could open.

Joliet collects a 3% tax off of recreational cannabis sales in the city but has never disclosed how much revenue is generated. City officials say state law prohibits disclosing the amount because there is only one operator in town, so disclosing the amount of tax revenue would reveal proprietary information about a private company’s sales.

Rise sells recreational cannabis at two Joliet locations insulated from residential areas by surrounding retail and industry. One is located on Colorado Avenue in the Louis Joliet Mall area, and the other is on Rock Creek Boulevard in the Rock Run Industrial Park.