By Diana Anghel, Staff Writer
November 21, 2019
Champaign County’s Environment and Land Use Committee recently voted on a zoning ordinance and a resolution that has to do with the incorporation of cannabis-based businesses in unincorporated areas of Champaign County. The votes happened on Nov. 7, and both ended in a tie.
First, the board voted on a zoning ordinance that allows for cannabis businesses, including dispensaries, cultivation sites and delivery services, to settle in specific zones of the unincorporated areas. Because the votes ended in a tie, the ordinance dies. Vice-Chair for the Environment and Land Use Committee Eric Thorsland voted in favor of the cannabis businesses.
“The vote for an ordinance to allow (these businesses) — that’s a rule that either lives or dies in that committee,” he said.
The second vote of the committee was on the resolution that fully prohibited all cannabis businesses. This vote also ended in a tie. However, it has a different route than the ordinance. Kyle Patterson, also a member of the board, voted against the prohibition.
“Because it’s not a zoning issue, the tie vote sends it to the full county board without recommendation from the committee, so the full county board can vote on that,” Patterson said.
Normally, there are three Republicans and four Democrats on the board who vote for these motions. On the day of the vote, one Democrat had conflicts and could not be in attendance, leaving three Republicans and three Democrats on the board.
Thorsland said the vote of the full county board for the prohibition will happen on Thursday in the Brookens Administrative Center at 6:30 p.m. There is a time for public comments at the beginning of the meeting.
“The more people that come to talk about it, the more important the issue becomes in the mind of the board members,” Thorsland said.
Many restrictions come with the incorporation of cannabis businesses in Illinois starting Jan. 1. Illinois receives only 75 licenses for retail establishments for the year. This means applications for licenses will not be admitted every time, and locations of the establishments will be limited.
“There are 103 counties in Illinois, so I’m not sure we would even be likely to get one application in Champaign County in