- Editor’s Note: This article was submitted and written by freelance writer Tim Kirsininkas.
The St. Charles City Council has given the green light to begin creating an ordinance to allow recreational sales within city limits.
Under the proposal, which passed the council’s Government Operations Committee last week by a 6-3 vote, St. Charles would allow two recreational dispensaries, one on each side of the Fox River, to be operated in select commercial zones by a company with at least two years prior history of providing medicinal marijuana.
On Aug. 19, Anthony Marsico, vice president of sales for Zen Leaf, which operates the currently existing medical marijuana dispensary in St. Charles, gave a presentation to the committee regarding the business aspects of marijuana sales. Marisco’s presentation provided an overall snapshot of his company’s plan to implement recreational sales along with their current medicinal operation.
While Marisco cited the opportunity to bring in 30 to 40 new full-time jobs and a projected $6.5 million in additional taxable revenue at his St. Charles location, he warned St. Charles officials that if the community opted-out of legal sales and banned it within city limits, he would be forced to pursue other avenues.
“From a business standpoint, it would be very tough to continue operating in St. Charles,” Marsico said. “Our hands would be tied, and we would be forced to explore other options in a neighboring community.”
Following the presentation, St. Charles aldermen discussed the issue and questioned representatives of Zen Leaf about regulations, employee training, logistics, and other issues.
First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis and Second Ward Alderman Rita Anne Payleitner were among the council’s most vocal members against the proposal.
“What you are asking us to do is to violate federal law in order to allow you to make a little extra money. I am not comfortable doing that” Silkaitis said.
Payleitner added that the city should exercise caution and proceed slowly and deliberately, rather than try to rush anything through.
“I’d like us to take a pause, just because there’s so much left yet to change,” Payleitner said. “Unlike Springfield, who passed this law with dollars signs in their eyes, I’d like us to move forward with our eyes wide open.”
After comments from the public, the committee remained split on the issue. Several Aldermen voiced their support for allowing Zen Leaf to pursue options that would allow them to stay in St. Charles with the intent of creating restrictions.
“At the end of the day, I’d like us to be known as the community that did what it had to do to allow medical marijuana to continue to be available to citizens,” said Third Ward Alderman Todd Bancroft. “And if following state law and allowing recreational sales is what we have to do to keep this great vendor in serving our community, then that’s what we should do” Bancroft said.
Aldermen Sillkaitis, Payleitner, and Art Lemke were the only votes against the proposal.
The proposal will now be given to city staff, who will draft a copy of the ordinance for consideration. The proposal will be brought before the Plan Commission, which will hold a public hearing on the issue at a later date to be announced.