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Carbondale Council to take up pot business zoning Tuesday
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Carbondale

Carbondale Council to take up pot business zoning Tuesday

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CARBONDALE — Carbondale’s City Council is poised Tuesday to continue its work to prepare for the impending sale of legal recreational cannabis in the state, and, officials are hoping, within the city.

After the state legislature voted earlier this year to pass adult-use recreational marijuana, Carbondale city officials have worked hard to get the word out that they want pot businesses to consider the city as a home.

However, this is all contingent on who gets licenses from the state, which has divided the state into zones. Medical dispensaries will get the first crack at recreational sales with new businesses getting a chance later in 2020. Recreational pot will be legal on New Year’s Day 2020.

In September, the City Council voted to pass an ordinance that would allow pot businesses to come to town. However, under the new state law, cities didn’t have to do this — the law opted all communities in, asking them to vote only if they wanted to opt out of allowing businesses to come to town. No city ordinance can ban possession of cannabis, though.

As communities like Murphysboro and Marion voted to opt out of pot sales in town, city officials in Carbondale wanted to make it known far and wide that Carbondale was open for business, which is why the council voted to “opt in.”

After repealing its paraphernalia ordinance, voting to regulate its own enforcement of home-grown pot plants, and establish an additional 2% city tax on the sale of recreational pot, the city will be diving into the weeds Tuesday to discuss zoning for dispensaries and grow facilities.

City Manager Gary Williams said he expects the zoning recommendations to be an easy sell to council, as the body had already given staff guidance to take language to the city’s planning commission. The commission passed the proposed text amendment in October.

The proposed language would put recreational dispensaries within the primary, secondary and planned business zones. Craft growers and other cultivators would be restricted to the secondary business and wholesale zones, as well as the city’s agricultural zones and general and light industrial zones.

The primary and secondary business zones center mostly along Illinois 13 and U.S. 51.

While the city is still waiting to announce an agreement with a dispensary, it will be home to a recreational cultivator. Ieso, which already operates a 23,000-square-foot greenhouse on New Era Road, west of Carbondale near Southern Illinois Airport, announced on Nov. 22 that it had been approved for a recreational grow license from the state.

Council will also vote on whether to allow the city to enter into a power purchase agreement with Bloomington solar company Straight Up Solar, which would install solar arrays on the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant, the police station and City Hall. Williams said if this is approved, it could save the city about $24,000 a year in utility costs — the use of solar energy would offset traditional energy consumption, but not entirely replace it — with zero capital costs for the city, as the Bloomington-based business would own and maintain the panels.

“The bigger thing is we are reducing our carbon footprint,” he said, adding that the city and its council want Carbondale to be a leader in renewable energy.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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