Columbia drafting cannabis zoning

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The future of a possible cannabis dispensary in Columbia took a step forward at Tuesday’s city council committee meeting.

Columbia Director of Community Development Scott Dunakey sought the council’s guidance regarding how to proceed with the upcoming zoning code update.

Columbia City Council’s Committee of the Whole voted 5-3 in favor of having Dunakey and his staff draft zoning language to permit a potential dispensary.

Dunakey suggested that the only zoning he would recommend would be for a dispensary, not anything involving cultivation or transportation, along with other zoning requirements for a possible business.

The committee discussed how to advise Dunakey to proceed. If no business zoning code exists for a cannabis dispensary, no cannabis business could exist within the city limits when adult-use recreational cannabis becomes legal in Illinois at the beginning of 2020.

Ward IV Alderman Mary Ellen Niemietz spoke out against allowing a business zone for a future cannabis business.

“Is this the image for Columbia that we want?” Niemietz asked.

Ward II Alderman Kevin Martens, while not a vocal proponent of marijuana use, said “the horse is out of the pen” regarding legalization.

Aldermen Niemietz, Gene Ebersohl and Mark Roessler voted against the creation of zoning language for a cannabis dispensary.

Dunakey added that no business could be in Columbia for at least a year if approved.

The zoning updates need to be created and approved by Columbia City Council before any further action may take place.

Read more in next week’s issue of the Republic-Times.

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