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Normal City Council to consider recreational cannabis facility
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Normal City Council to consider recreational cannabis facility

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NORMAL — The Normal City Council will consider a special use permit to allow for Bloomington-Normal’s first recreational cannabis retailer Monday night.

Last week, the Normal Zoning Board of Appeals voted to recommend granting the permit to the Green Solution at 501 W. Northtown Road. The company already operates a medical cannabis dispensary and would continue to do so if the recreational permit is approved. Officials have applied for a recreational permit from the state of Illinois, but state officials will not consider the request prior to zoning approval from the Town of Normal.

The Green Solution does not propose significant changes to the existing site, which currently contains a one-story building, 21 parking spaces and two access points (one from Northtown and another from Eagle, which would be widened to meet city codes).

In a report to council members, Town Planner Mercy Davison said the proposed special use permit meets the general special use standards, including those specific to adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

“The location of the business is within the appropriate zoning district and far from any residences, schools, or child-oriented facilities. Although there is a small church to the east, it is outside the minimum 75-foot separation distance. The security plan is thorough and will have to meet the strict standards set by the state of Illinois. The hours of operation are reasonable, and the parking exceeds the code minimum for retail operations,” her report stated.

If approved Monday, there is no timetable available on when the state might approve the license and the company be permitted to sell recreational cannabis. In its application for the permit, company officials said they will have special staffing provisions to deal with potential excess parking and traffic in the first two weeks of operation. The Green Solution would operate from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day of the week.

The Green Solution does not include a cultivation (growing) operation, and are not anticipating any odor issues. However, should there be an overwhelming odor of any kind that the state finds needs mitigation, the company will install a charcoal filter to the building HVAC system or employ another air treatment system, according to the application.

Recreational cannabis use became legal Jan. 1 in Illinois.

In other business, the council will consider amending the lease agreement for the Illinois State University Art Gallery.

In 2013, the Town approved a lease to allow ISU to use the west-end, ground floor of the Uptown Station Parking Deck for an art gallery, related to the university’s education activities. Under that lease, ISU paid an annual lease amount tied to the cost of the build-out of the space. The last annual lease payment covered the period of March 1, 2019, through Feb. 28, 2020.

All of the build-out costs have now been repaid. The total amount paid to the Town by Illinois State for the gallery space is $2,081,658.

The original lease was a five-year lease that expired in the fall of 2019. In October of 2019, the Town and ISU amended the lease to extend the term of the lease through February of 2020. The extension was to allow time for discussion for potential renewal after that date. Normal officials were investigating whether grant money used to build the parking deck required rent payment by ISU. Further investigation and discussion with the Federal Transportation Authority indicate that rent is not required under the grant, officials said in a report to council members.

Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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