With one member missing, Wheeling plan commissioners Thursday voted 5-1 to recommend regulations potential sellers of recreational marijuana might face.
Plan commission Chairman Don Johnson emphasized that the question before the panel was merely what rules marijuana retailers would have to follow if their presence were permitted. Only the village board can decide whether such businesses will be allowed at all, Johnson said.
The recommendation could come before trustees as early as Nov. 18 unless a busy agenda that night delays it.
Buffalo Grove resident Eleanor Hesse spoke about the impact she said Wheeling’s decision could have on all the Northwest suburbs.
Hesse expressed surprise that she was the only speaker at Thursday’s public hearing, having been among a crowd of 150 when her own village addressed marijuana sales.
She praised her neighboring village for its improvement of the appearance of Dundee Road, especially the new Wheeling Town Center, but said the direction it was taking on recreational marijuana flew in the face of that.
“Why in the world are you going to open up stores selling dope?” she asked.
A majority of plan commissioners supported having no limit on the number of cannabis retailers in the village, though member Mike Sprague, who ultimately voted against recommending the list of regulations, had favored a limit of five stores.
Most commissioners felt the restriction of such businesses to commercial retail areas as well as requiring a 250-foot buffer from all schools, day care centers, parks, libraries and religious buildings would sufficiently limit the number of places they could be.
The panel was evenly divided on whether to allow marijuana dispensaries to have adjacent lounges with separate entrances where consumption would be allowed. Use within a store is prohibited, but the village board will have to find its own direction on lounges.
If lounges were allowed, however, plan commissioners suggested their parking requirements mirror those for taverns rather than the retail parking ratios that dispensaries would have to meet.