VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
AUGUST 5, 2019
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Berman called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Dale Berman, Trustees Mark Gaffino, Mike Lowery, Laura Curtis, Mark Carroll, Tao Martinez, Mark Guethle and Village Clerk Lori Murray.
Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Community and Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel Public Works Director John Laskowski, Police Chief David Fisher, Captain/Fire Marshal Eric Bunkofske.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS – None
TRUSTEE COMMENTS – None
1. Randall Road Commercial Center (Randall Terrace Apartments)
Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth stated that the Randall Road Commercial Center is looking to receive entitlement on Lot 2 for multifamily residential.
This was discussed previously as a concept plan at the Village Board meeting on December 17th of last year. The Plan Commission reviewed the zoning request and recommended approval at their June 4th meeting. At that meeting, the Plan Commission requested more pedestrian connectivity internally to the site and linking the pedestrian connectivity to the east where there is a sidewalk along Miller Drive. They also wanted more dumpster enclosures.
The board was in favor of moving forward.
2. Recreational Cannabis
Village Administrator Steve Bosco went through a brief presentation regarding recreational cannabis. The state passed a new cannabis regulation and tax act that goes into effect January 1st. The board will need to decide if it wants to allow sales or ban sales of cannabis in North Aurora. Bosco noted that an interesting fact to North Aurora compared to other communities is that the village is one of the few that already has a medical marijuana dispensary in town. Under this new law, the medical marijuana dispensaries will have the right to cohabitate with recreational sales as long as the village board chooses not to ban them. The village has been notified by the dispensary in town that they are interested in selling recreational marijuana in North Aurora.
Bosco noted that businesses would have to zoned in. None of the businesses are currently zoned for recreational sales.
IL residents 21 and over will be allowed to possess cannabis legally beginning January 1, 2020. Per state law, the following will be allowed:
30 grams (about an ounce) of cannabis flower
5 grams for cannabis concentrate
500 milligrams of THC
Possession will be permissible in a motor vehicle. If someone is able to buy it legally, they will have to be able to transport it home. The only place a person will be able to use it would be in a private residence. The board has the right to allow people to use cannabis at the dispensary but can make stricter requirements and not allow this to be permissible.
Bosco noted that if the Board bans retail sales, it does not ban the use of marijuana in the community.
Police Chief Fisher stated that in terms of alcohol, breathalyzers and road side tests can be done to determine if a person is intoxicated. There is nothing like that for marijuana and therefore enforcement will be tougher. Currently, tests can only be done through blood or urine tests.
Trustee Carroll asked if there is a minimum safe limit for marijuana. Chief Fisher said yes and that there is a permissible level for safe driving.
Regulating bodies for cannabis:
Department of Agriculture is in charge of most of the cannabis businesses.
Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees the dispensaries.
Taxes range from 20% – 38%. The County has the right to add an additional 3% sales tax. They also have the right to go to 3.75% in unincorporated areas. Municipalities including home rule and non home rule have the right to add an additional 3% sales tax. Eight percent of all the taxes collected are put into the local government distributive fund.
Three (3) things the board should decide:
1. If the village board wants to direct staff that this is not right for the community and do not
want recreational sales in the community. Staff would then bring an ordinance to the Board to ban it.
2. If the board wants more information and public input, there would be a public hearing at a Plan Commission meeting. Results from that meeting would be discussed at the next Committee of the Whole meeting.
3. If the board is interested in recreational sales in North Aurora. There would be a public hearing at a Plan Commission meeting.
Trustee Curtis asked how the federal banking regulations affect the sale of marijuana since a lot of these companies are 100% cash businesses. Curtis added that a lot of these businesses are open to extortion and armed robbery. Curtis said that she is concerned that this is a safety issue since she had read that 50% of these businesses get robbed within the first six months.
Trustee Guethle said that this will bring much needed revenue to the village at about $500,000 a year to the Village. Trustee Lowery agreed but was concerned as far as the clientele this will draw.
Trustee Carroll said it is more than money and that there are legitimate concerns about people who are drawn to these places.
Bosco said that in talks with the chief and the mayor, staff would recommend banning consumption on premises. Curtis said she is in favor of allowing cannabis sales, but not in favor of consumption on premises.
Chief Fisher said he has a lot of the same concerns as the Board and is absolutely against smoking cannabis on site. Fisher added that he wants to see this heavily regulated. He is also concerned with the sales location and does not want it near residential areas. Bosco said that once the board has a direction, Staff is ready to put a lot of regulations in place. They have discussed zoning districts and security measures and have already put together a map of possible locations.
Lowery asked Finance Director Bill Hannah about the amount of revenue of $300,000 – $500,000 and if he would consider this to be a significant amount for the village. Hannah said yes and that $600,000 is 5% of the general budget right now.
Trustee Gaffino said that his concern is that it is so new that there needs to be more education on the issue. Gaffino added that revenue is good but it should not drive everything. He was also in agreement that it should not be consumed on site and would rather have the business in an industrial site.
Carroll said it is not worth the risk and would like to see it banned in the community. Carroll added that there is no way to measure the minimum safe consumption at this time.
Lowery said he would like to know the statistics on alcohol causing accidents versus marijuana causing accidents. Fisher said that per a study in Colorado, since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana related traffic deaths increased 151%. Traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 138 in 2017.
Gaffino said he would like to know the statistics on criminal activity before and after. Fisher said that in Colorado, crime increased 18.6% and crime on property went up 8.3%.
Carroll asked if there is a maximum the village could charge for a licensing fee such as a $10,000 licensing fee. Atty. Drendel said no since the village is a non home rule authority.
The board was in agreement with sending this to the Plan Commission and having a public hearing. Items of discussion would include: no consumption on premises, zoning, location, and hours of operation. Bosco stated that the business wants to locate at the Clocktower which is zoned B2. They are currently in B3 which is Route 31. B3 is Route 31 and the corridor from State Street down to Route 88 and a little bit south of that. B2 consists of the main commercial areas that they would not be able to be located at. Both commercial and industrial will be proposed to the Plan Commission.
Motion made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Carroll to adjourn to executive session to discuss property acquisition. All in favor. Motion approved.
Lori J. Murray