After two years of discussion, Village of Wilmette officials conversed about local cannabis sales for all of two minutes on Tuesday evening.
The Village Board approved an amendment to the Village Code to allow for the licensed sale of recreational cannabis in Edens Plaza, 3232 Lake Avenue.
“This evening is the culmination of two years of a very thoughtful and methodical approach by the Village Board to study this issue from various aspects and to solicit as much community input as we could to help formulate the board’s decision this evening,” Village Manager Mike Braiman said just prior to the 6-1 vote with Village President Senta Plunkett in dissent.
Plunkett has been consistent in her apprehension of the measure.
Prior to the April election, which resulted in her victory as village president, Plunkett told The Record that a cannabis-sales ordinance would need to meet several criteria to win her approval.
In July, she — as well as Trustee Daniel Sullivan — voted against instructing village staff to build an ordinance to amend the village code.
“I’ve never been a big fan of this, and I have to say that I am not thrilled with the idea of having recreational cannabis in Wilmette,” she said at that meeting. “But I do feel somewhat allayed by the security and listening to (Police) Chief (Kyle) Murphy and having many talks with him about this and just the experiences of other businesses and other towns.”
Neither Plunkett nor any board members offered their thoughts on the amendment at Monday’s meeting, and no members of the public were in the audience. The meeting packet, however, included four emails from residents regarding cannabis sales.
The board’s approval gives cannabis dispensaries the opportunity to lease space in Edens Plaza and then apply for a special-use permit with the Village of Wilmette.
“It does not mean there is going to be a dispensary opening any time soon in Wilmette,” Braiman said in the meeting.
The board’s decision ends a two-year moratorium on legal cannabis sales in Wilmette that was first adopted by the Village Board in October 2019 and extended earlier this summer.
In November, the Village collected residents’ opinions on the issue in a nonbinding ballot question. Fifty-six percent of voters, or 6,648 people, were in favor of allowing sales, while 44 percent, or 5,344, were against.
The topic was handed to the Land Use Committee for discussion and review of local business districts. After two meetings, the committee identified Edens Plaza as the preferred location for a dispensary should sales be allowed.
After the board’s July green light, Wilmette staff members developed an ordinance that includes a number of restrictions for potential dispensaries. When and if a dispensary approaches the villages, their application will be scrutinized for the operation’s size, hours, parking, lighting, signage and more.
Additionally, the ordinance allows for only one dispensary in Wilmette, prohibits on-site usage of cannabis and requires a security plan to be on file with the Wilmette Police Department, according to village documents.
“Again, this is not the end of this,” Plunkett said, “and there will certainly be a chance if and whenever a business will like to come here we will have public discussion, comment, several layers.”
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