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Local

Sycamore committee backs marijuana dispensary, although permit process is long-haul

SYCAMORE – By a 9-3 vote on Monday, the city of Sycamore's Planning and Zoning Commission is backing a special-use permit for David and Janice Tripp to open a medical marijuana dispensary, the first in the process of the shop actually gaining approval.

The facility still needs to be approved by the Sycamore City Council and the state. The region – which includes DeKalb and Sycamore – can only be approved by the state for a single permit, and the city of DeKalb has already approved two permits, a step closer to attaining state approval. One could set up in The Junction Shopping Center, 818 W. Lincoln Highway, and is owned by NuMed Partners LLC, an Illinois-based medical and recreational marijuana dispensary with shops in Chicago, East Peoria and Urbana. The other, for Chicago-based BQ Enterprises in November for a shop at 700 Peace Road.

The property owned by the Tripps was Newby's Pool and Spa Shop. Janice Tripp, who attended the virtual meeting online Monday and answered questions with son Andrew Tripp, said while her family may not have experience running a dispensary, she feels her local roots adds a lot to the process. The Tripps also said they'd pursue attaining a recreational marijuana permit, too.

"This one would be family-owned," Tripp said. "We care about Sycamore. We have no intention of selling it off. It's going to be ours and hopefully our childrens' to run."

Nate Kitterman, Stephen Nelson and Chairperson Bill Davey were the no votes on the commission.

Valerie Crandon, owner of Ollie's Frozen Custard, was present at the meeting and raised objections. City Manager Brian Gregory read a letter from Crandon that cited reasons she objected to the placement of the dispensary, which is separated by an empty lot from the frozen custard shop. That lot also is owned by the Tripps.

Crandon's main concern was that she runs a family-oriented business, with many minors as both customers and employees. She said she was worried about them acquiring marijuana as well as increased crime in the area.

She also was worried about traffic increases and fear that the owners would sell the property.

"My main concern is safety," Crandon said. "When we are walking out the door, are Sycamore police going to escort us so we feel safe? I'm not sure these will be issues with the medical part. It's the recreational part that concerns me greatly."

Crandon said she also was against the CBD shop that borders her property on the other side.

The board voted with the stipulation that the Tripps would build a fence or other landscaping between their property and Ollie's.

The property currently is zoned for use as, among other things, a liquor store or restaurant. Andrew Tripp pointed out the liquor store in the Hy-Vee across the street from the Ollie's.

"Exchanges could happen just as easy with liquor as with marijuana," Andrew Tripp said. "We could sell the property and the person could open up a liquor shop. I don't even know how to address some issues other than people being OK with marijuana but just don't want it next to them."

Both Gregory and the Tripps pointed out that there are many security measures mandated by the state to run a dispensary to ensure safety for both the business and the community.

The process for a recreational license would take even longer. When the state approved recreational marijuana, it automatically proved recreational permits for its 55 medical dispensaries, Gregory said. Gregory said it was unclear if that would extend to new medical licenses.

And where a medical permit requires a location before state approval, a recreational permit requires the location be determined after state approval.

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