The Sugar Grove Village Board of Trustees continued to debate whether to allow marijuana sales in town at its Oct. 1 meeting.
Recreational marijuana will become legal in the state of Illinois beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The state is limiting the number of licenses initially available to allow marijuana businesses to operate.
Several trustees said they remain in the research phase and have not taken firm positions on this topic.
Trustee Heidi Lendi said the idea of allowing cannabis sales is a big decision, while Trustee Ryan Walter questioned the significance of the matter.
“Because it’s an emotional decision,” Lendi said. “It’s got a lot of stigma.”
The village has not received any requests from petitioners looking to set up recreational marijuana businesses in town, to date.
Police Chief Patrick Rollins said that testing for marijuana hasn’t been easy for the police department, but they’ve been dealing with it for years and it won’t change regardless if it’s recreational or medicinal use, which has been legal in Illinois for several years.
The state intends to use a portion of funds generated from recreational cannabis sales to pay for crime prevention training programs and substance abuse efforts.
The village recently released the results of a survey, which show a near split between the number of residents who oppose and support marijuana sales in town.
Some have said the issue should be decided by the voters, but Walter said he doesn’t think going out to referendum is the solution, saying he refuses to put a price tag and place profits over people.
Walter explained that the question of whether to allow marijuana sales in town isn’t about religious/spiritual beliefs or morality, it’s about facts.
Trustee Jen Konen said she is on the fence about Sugar Grove allowing recreational marijuana sales.
“I have the same fears that you all have regarding that, but it is legal so that is my holdout,” she said. “I don’t have friends that are habitual users, and I don’t know their history on that. … Like I said, I have alcoholism in my family, and that has destroyed part of my mom’s family. I can’t stop alcohol from being sold in Sugar Grove. It’s legal. I guess that’s my holdup.”
Walter shared a differing viewpoint.
“This is why we have to be concerned citizens and care about our own brothers and sisters,” he said.
Walter said the question of whether to allow recreational cannabis sales in town isn’t about religious/spiritual beliefs or morality, it’s about the facts.
The board did not reach a consensus regarding whether to allow recreational cannabis sales in town at the meeting.
Further discussion on this topic is expected to take place at the village board’s Oct. 15 meeting.
Hannaford Farm park transfer
Also at the meeting, trustees came to a consensus directing village staff to look into transferring park property to the Hannaford Farm Homeowner’s Association with a public access easement.
The village board’s decision will prevent the homeowner’s association from restricting the property to private use only. It also allows for a partially releasable public access easement, should future improvements involving a pool or tennis court come to reality.
Several trustees said they like the compromise.
Konen, who lives in the Hannaford Farm subdivision, said the consensus of the Hannaford Farm Homeowner’s Association is they do not want the property transferred to the Sugar Grove Park District. She wanted her position to be made clear.
“I’m not going to sit on this board and say no to a private park—that is not my position,” she said. “Although that may be the position of some of you regarding this park—and it would be the first privately owned park in Sugar Grove for public access—we will take it regardless.”
Trustee Rick Montalto said he stands by his position, wanting the Hannaford Farm Homeowner’s Association to take ownership of the property so long as it agrees to maintain public access.
“Kids should not be told, ‘you’re not allowed in the park,’” he said.
Walter, who also lives in the Hannaford Farm subdivision, acknowledged Montalto’s concerns for the park, should it be restricted to private use only.
“I will you tell the liability part is the concern about being private versus public,” he said. “I will you tell that … as public servants, we’re responsible to the public. We’re responsible to the residents. We’re not responsible for them and for their actions. So, if there’s someone who wants to say, ‘Get out of this park’, that’s on them. That does not represent me; that does not represent Jen [Konen].”
Konen wanted it to be clear the Hannaford Farm subdivision is a welcoming place.
Montalto chimed in, saying, “says the lady that doesn’t want the park [to be] public.”
Konen said it’s important that the homeowner’s association maintains control of the park.
“It really is about maintaining that park, so that we can finish developing the rest of the neighborhood,” she said. “That is why we want to maintain it.”
Montalto said he has no issue with that, and believes the park district could handle it. He suggested that if liability is the issue, then the park district should take ownership of the park.
The village board reached a consensus directing staff to look into transferring the property to the Hannaford Farm Homeowner’s Association with the public access easement.
Village staff will report back to the board on this topic at a later date.
Meeting minutes addressed
Village President Sean Michels took time to address concerns raised for the way the village compiles meeting minutes.
“Regarding the minutes, I’d like to do a little more research into the topic before we take action or recommend action,” he said. “I’d ask that the board research other minutes in other communities to see what’s out there.”
Officials have said the meeting minutes are not meant to provide a verbatim record of what’s discussed.
The village has been recording audio and video at its last two board meetings, in hopes of providing residents with an account of what occurs in its entirety, no audio or video recordings have been posted for public viewing to date.
CMAP comprehensive plan grant to be sought
In other developments, the village board gave staff the authorization to prepare an application seeking Local Technical Assistance program funding through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
Village board consensus is meant to help make a comprehensive plan update possible.
The current comprehensive plan, originally adopted in 2005, was amended in 2014 and 2018.
The village is looking to commit funding, in an amount which has not yet been identified, during the next fiscal year in May of 2020.