Northfield to continue discussion on cannabis sales at Jan. 4 planning meeting

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Northfield officials will continue their deliberations on whether to allow cannabis-related businesses in the village Monday, Jan. 4, during a plan and zoning commission meeting.

Commissioners are slated to hold a public hearing on several proposed text amendments to village code that, if approved by the Village Board, would allow adult-use cannabis dispensaries in select portions of Northfield.

The process requires a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission and final board approval.

The commission’s public hearing on the matter comes more than two months after Northfield’s Village Board signaled preliminary support for allowing dispensaries.

In mid-October, the majority of village trustees expressed a “complete 180” on the topic during an initial discussion of the topic at a regular board meeting, as previously reported by The Record.

Trustees then requested at the October meeting that village staff begin work on an ordinance for consideration.

In 2019, in anticipation of the state’s legalization of cannabis sales under the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Northfield officials voted to prohibit all cannabis establishments in the village, as did many of the town’s neighbors

At the time of the 2019 decision, the board based its decision on a lack of information on crime, traffic, parking and anticipated sales tax revenue, according to village documents. Trustees, however, did include provisions that the topic would be reassessed when more data became available.

Proposed amendments the commission will be reviewing Jan. 4, if approved, would allow the adult-use dispensaries only under a special-use permit that would require zoning hearings and village board approval for any cannabis-related business, officials said.

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Northbrook officials are estimating they will receive upwards of $450,000 in sales tax revenue from Greenhouse (pictured here), a new cannabis dispensary. Northfield officials are considering allowing cannabis sales in the village. | Photo courtesy of Greenhouse Group

According to Northfield’s website, “the proposed text amendments also establish a number of regulations on security, advertising and minimum distances to sensitive uses such as schools, parks, daycares and houses of worship.”

Village trustees who in October supported moving forward with exploring the topic agreed that a retail dispensary is the only viable option in Northfield. Trustees also believed at least a minimum distance of 1,000 or 1,500 feet between a dispensary and schools, places of worship, parks and “sensitive places” should be applied

Trustees previously discussed potential locations for dispensaries — if it were to allow cannabis sales in the village — to either the Frontage or Waukegan roads corridors.

Northfield’s reconsideration of cannabis sales comes as the village is anticipating significant revenue losses attributed to COVID-19. An early review of the village’s budget in December showed a possible deficit of $500,000, as reported by The Record.

The local 3 percent tax on the sales of adult-use cannabis is an option that village officials think could help make up the shortfall.

“Obviously every municipality has been very hard hit financially by the COVID situation, primarily in the area of sales tax with businesses having to close for an extended period of time or operate in a sort of minimum capacity,” Northfield Village Manager Stacy Sigman previously told The Record. “We’ve seen a decline in sales tax and so the village began, like every other village, to look at different ways we can enhance revenues and cannabis (sales) came up.”

Adult-use cannabis sales started in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020, and according to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, have so far generated approximately $580 million in sales. Record sales are being reported each month, as the state totaled more than $75 million in November.

At the local level, while data is relatively limited at this point, nearby villages are estimating significant returns from the sale of cannabis. In neighboring Northbrook, officials are expecting $450,000-600,000 yearly in local cannabis sales tax revenue from a dispensary that opened in late 2020 at the corner of Skokie Boulevard and Dundee Road.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here and additional related village documents here.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4, via Zoom. Written comments can be submitted to the village prior to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 4. Additional information on meeting participation can be found here.

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