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Sycamore Planning Commission OKs medical marijuana dispensary

Sycamore Planning Commission members review documents related to a proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 1985 Gateway Drive, Sycamore, ahead of Monday's meeting.
Sycamore Planning Commission members review documents related to a proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 1985 Gateway Drive, Sycamore, ahead of Monday's meeting.

SYCAMORE – For the third time, the Sycamore Planning Commission has signed off on a proposed medical marijuana dispensary.

In a 9-0 vote Monday, the panel gave the City Council a green light for The Dispensary LLC should Springfield reopen the licensing process. The facility, planned for 1985 Gateway Drive, east of the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, requires a special use permit from the city before any efforts to gain a license from the state can move forward.

Chicago-based Canna Consultants originally gained city approval in April 2015 after the passage of the 2014 Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, but the firm did not follow through with the state application at the time.

Under the act, Illinois approved 55 of a possible 60 dispensaries in the initial 2015 period, but it has not been opened to new applications since, stalling Canna’s progress on opening a DeKalb County facility.

“There was a significant amount of interest in that location” in 2015, City Manager Brian Gregory said Monday. “Emphasis was placed on clustering any medical dispensary in the medical corridor along Gateway Drive.”

Proponents planned on the state accepting applications during a 2017 session, leading Canna to seek Sycamore’s stamp of approval a second time. But the application period never reopened, and city officials along with the prospective developers aren’t holding their breath on Springfield accepting new submissions this time around.

“At this point, we’ve been getting a lot of the same as the last four years,” said Luke DeBatty of The Dispensary. “We wanted to prepare for if and when they reopened the application period.”

Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, said last week that he expects any further dispensary decisions to be held until the state approves recreational marijuana use for adults.

DeBatty said his company does not intend to modify its plan for the location should recreational marijuana use be approved in Illinois.

“If that happens in the future, that’s not really our concern,” he told the commission. “We’re looking at strictly medical use.”

Special use permit approved

In other business, a special use permit was granted to Accurate Towing, as business owner Adam Benn seeks to buy the property at 531 E. Sycamore St. from June Ehrler, where Benn currently operates his towing and impound facility.

Commissioner Ted Strack noted that plans to extend the Great Western Trail to Old Mill Park included using a small portion of the land currently occupied by the business. Benn assured the commission that he would continue to work with city and Sycamore Park District officials to see that plan completed.

Officials said they could not find an existing special use permit on file after Benn inquired with the city during the due diligence phase of his purchase. The permit would allow current operations to continue on the property as is, but would require future development to comply with the city’s 2006 Unified Development Ordinance.

The commission voted, 8-0 with one abstention, to send the proposal to the full council next week.

The Sycamore Planning Commission meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the Sycamore Center, 308 W. State St.

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