Logan County ordinance amendments for cannabis businesses and wind towers on the board again

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[January 11, 2020] 

Two groups that prescreen ordinance decisions for Logan County met this past week to discuss cannabis businesses and wind tower ordinances. While the county voted recently to not allow resale of recreational marijuana, there are many other businesses affiliated to consider allowing.

And wind towers, well there is a potential resolution to reduce their impact to residents at night.

Regional Planning Commission

At the January, Regional Planning Commission meeting, Logan County Zoning Officer Will D’Andrea explained some of the proposed ordinance changes.

The county recently voted to not allow dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county. Therefore, D’Andrea said the list of businesses does not include a marijuana dispensary.

However, the board was in favor of the medical marijuana facility, which does cultivation. When it was approved, the board did not think this use would be incompatible with agriculture uses.

Using state statutes as a guide, D’Andrea has been working on definitions related to the various Adult-Use Cannabis Business Establishments. This language will be added to the Section 15.2 definitions in the Zoning Ordinance. These establishments include an adult-use cannabis cultivation center, craft grower, processing organization, infuser organization, or transporting organization.

The definitions of the other Adult-Use Cannabis Business Establishments are as follows:

Adult-Use Cannabis Craft Grower: A facility operated by an organization or business that is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to cultivate, dry, cure and package cannabis and perform other necessary activities to make cannabis available for sale at a dispensing organization or use at a processing organization.

Adult-Use Cannabis Cultivation Center: A facility operated by an organization or business that is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to cultivate, process, transport and perform necessary activities to provide cannabis and cannabis-infused products to licensed cannabis business establishments.

Adult-Use Cannabis Infuser Organization or Infuser: A facility operated by an organization or business that is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to directly incorporate cannabis or cannabis concentrate into a product formulation to produce a cannabis-infused product.

Adult-Use Cannabis Processing Organization or Processor: A facility operated by an organization or business that is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to either extract constituent chemicals or compounds to produce cannabis concentrate or incorporate cannabis or cannabis concentrate into a product formulation to produce a cannabis product.

Adult-Use Cannabis Transporting Organization or Transporter: An organization or business that is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to transport cannabis on behalf of a cannabis business establishment or a community college licensed under the Community College Cannabis Vocational Training Pilot Program.

As noted in the definitions, most of these establishments are part of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which may be amended occasionally.

D’Andrea said the allowed Cannabis Business Establishments will also be added to the Agricultural and Special District permitted uses in section 3.41-2 of the zoning ordinance.

The Commission did not have a quorum and could not make a recommendation, but D’Andrea asked for their consensus and some said they had researched the issue, did not see a problem with it and felt the ordinance spelled everything out well.

Regional Planning Commission member Kevin Bateman said the application fee for any of these businesses in the state of Illinois is $5,000 and non-refundable.

RPC Wind tower lighting

In regard to the Wind Farm Ordinance, two sections are being amended.

In Appendix E on Wind Energy Conversion Systems, as part of the siting approval application, there will be an added section on costs the applicant, owner or operator of the wind farm will be responsible for paying.

The added language says all costs incurred by the county that are associated with the wind farms shall be paid by the applicant, owner or operator. Costs incurred under this provision shall include, but not be limited to, the cost of notification, experts, hearing officer(s) or facilitator(s), and/or attorneys that may be used at any stage of the project.

These costs will also include the application review, hearing process, consideration of the application by the county (including County Board or Zoning Board of Appeals), permitting, operations phase and/or decommissioning phase.

In addition, costs of any appeal or litigation resulting from any project, application, action, permit, or work undertaken or performed by the county shall be paid by the applicant, owner or operator, including, but not limited to, the cost of experts and attorney’s fees.

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At a conference D’Andrea recently attended, an attorney said it is good to have this language in ordinances for larger projects.

The other section to be amended relates to tower lighting. D’Andrea said representatives from the Whitney Hill Wind Farm Project came forward asking about using light detection radar. With the motion sensing detection, the tower lights would not come on unless the radar picks aircraft up.

Bateman said commercial airliners [flying at higher elevations] will not turn on the lights, but a Cessna flying over [at lower elevations] would turn them on until they are out of the radar’s detection.

For the light detection radar, the following language will be added to the section on wind farm lighting:

The project shall utilize aircraft detection lighting systems as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, unless the FAA does not recommend or approve this technology for a proposed project. The county recently decided it would be good to require this type of radar for future wind farms if the FAA utilizes it.

If approved by the FAA, the wind farm will not have the constantly flashing red lights. D’Andrea said that would minimize the visual impact of the towers.

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing Thursday, January 9 to consider amendments to the Logan County Zoning Ordinances.

Zoning amendments include adding definitions for Adult-Use Cannabis Business Establishments. There are numerous other businesses involved in growing and processing products, and these would be added as a Permitted Use in Agricultural and Special Districts.

In addition, Appendix E on Wind Energy Conversion Systems is being amended to require aircraft detection lighting system technology. The wind farm ordinance will also specify that the applicant is responsible for all costs incurred by the county.

At the Public Hearing, the Zoning Board of Appeals reviewed these amendments. As they looked them over, they considered whether to recommend the Logan County Board approved them.

ZBA members present were Chairman Doug Thompson, Bret Farmer, Judi Graff, Scott Noltensmeier and John Fulton. Cheryl Baker and Derek Martin were absent.

Back in November, the Board’s Planning and Zoning Committee began looking at amending the zoning ordinance to incorporate cannabis establishments.

D’Andrea said the existing medical cultivation center is in an agricultural zoning district and so the cultivation and craft grower businesses would be a good fit in that zone. The existing operation is probably a good example of what these operations might look like and function.

When D’Andrea asked the Planning and Zoning Committee their thoughts, some felt putting the businesses in agricultural districts would be best. Some also thought there should be certain setbacks from churches and schools.

A ZBA member had read an article in the Pantagraph about McClean County making the Adult-Use Cannabis Business Establishments conditional uses and applying setbacks to them, so some of the discussion revolved around these issues.

The ZBA decided “Adult Entertainment” setbacks (section 3.8) would not need to be applied to these establishments because these uses (such as cultivation) are not that bad. Members agreed that setbacks to schools and churches would probably not be necessary.

However, if someone were to come forward wanting to start one of these establishments, the ZBA thought it would be a good idea to have a public hearing and closer look at the proposed project.

After some discussion, John Fulton motioned to approve the request to amend Sections 15.2 (definitions) and 3.41-2 (permitted uses).

This motion failed 3-2 (the ZBA needs four yesses for it to pass).

Judi Graff, Scott Noltensmeier and John Fulton voted yes.

Doug Thompson and Bret Farmer voted no.

Bret Farmer then motioned to approve the request to amend Section 15.2 on definitions as proposed and recommended making these Conditional Uses and it was unanimously approved by all present.

The ZBA then unanimously approved amendments to the Wind Farm ordinance sections on costs and lighting.

The ZBA recommendations will be brought forward to the Logan County Board at the monthly Workshop on Thursday, January 16 and voted on at the Regular meeting, Tuesday, January 21. Both meetings will be held at 6 p.m. in the Logan County Courthouse.

[Angela Reiners]

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