DANVILLE – Despite concerns from Sleep Inn and Suites hotel and gas station representatives, the Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission by a 3-2 vote Thursday night recommended approving a special-use permit for a cannabis dispensary on Lynch Road.
The Danville City Council will act on the special-use permit petition on Nov. 19.
Sabrina Noah, senior vice president of public affairs with Cresco Labs, owner of petitioner Phoenix Farms of Illinois, couldn’t comment on how soon the Sunnyside Dispensary could open with city council approval, but a general timeline of 18 weeks for design, permit review, construction and training means it could open by the first quarter of 2020.
The commission recommended allowing a medicinal/adult-use cannabis dispensing organization to be located at the former Border Café and Big Boy Restaurant at 369 Lynch Drive in the B3-general business zoned district.
The commission, at the request of Commissioner Ted Vacketta, removed one of the “preliminary findings of fact” for the petition that referred to the development being compatible with existing uses and zoning classifications of property within the general area.
Vacketta, who along with Chairwoman Tracy Taylor, voted against the petition, said there is insufficient information to make that determination since a dispensary is new to the city.
“Maybe it’d be no problem,” he said.
Tim Knight, Sleep Inn owner, and Dori Stone, the hotel's general manager, said there’s the potential the hotel could go out of business. But Commissioner Adam Brown said the dispensary might increase their business.
Knight said the families and other patrons of the hotel will see the dispensary.
“We’re not saying don’t do it. Keep it here, but move it in another location,” Knight said, for example, about moving it more toward the interstate. He asked if city officials were all giddy about the taxes the dispensary will bring in.
Knight expects the dispensary will hurt his $5.5 million hotel.
The commission also by a 5-0 vote changed the Danville Zoning Ordinance to include definitions and district use regulations relating to a medicinal and adult-use cannabis business.
Language was taken out prior to the vote due to concerns about those residing near the former Border Cafe site, such as a house east of the Marathon Gas Station at Lynch Road and U.S. 136 and people who stay 30 consecutive days or longer at the hotels.
Sleep Inn General Manager Dori Stone said a couple hotels do have “residents.” Another audience member also brought up that some hotel owners live in their hotels.
Danville Senior Planner Tyson Terhune said the intent of the ordinance restrictions was to not allow a cannabis facility within a half mile of a residential-zoned area. The words regarding a property used for residential purposes were taken out of the amendment.
With the restrictions, the Lynch Road industrial area is the only location in Danville a cannabis facility could be located.
Noah also addressed security questions saying there will be two security guards there, with guards there 24/7 and an extensive video camera system covering all areas. She said in a lot of instances, crime has gone down in the areas of the dispensaries.
She said the Sunnyside brand has been very successfully received in Illinois, with representatives showing Chicago Wrigleyville site renderings, and has been called the “Whole Foods” grocery store of cannabis dispensaries.
They also operate the medical dispensary in Champaign, she said, and they’ve had no issues with that or the other four they operated in Illinois since 2014.
Patrons will enter a waiting area, have their identification and/or medical cards checked. There’s then a second limited access area for the retail floor that has patient care specialists, Noah said about the dispensary.
“You don’t have flashing lights “Get your pot here?” Vacketta asked.
Noah said that is not allowed under state law.
Stone said she’s concerned about safety, security, increased traffic, noise and other issues.
“It seems to me a pretty much done deal. This is really not a good spot for this particular business,” she said. “We do our best to make (hotel customers) feel comfortable and welcome and safe.”
“I don’t know how busy it will be, but I’m quite concerned,” she said.
Noah said they will be a good neighbor, and there won’t be any “funny business” going on, on the property.
Taylor said with a dispensary being new here, she has no idea how it’s going to affect the city. But she is concerned if hotels could close.