Council approves cannabis tax

The Vandalia City Council voted on Monday to establish a sales tax amount for cannabis sales in the city. But that doesn’t mean that sales would yet be allowed, or if they would be allowed.
The council voted unanimously to set a sales tax of 3 percent for cannabis sales, but a decision on whether to allow sales has not yet been made.
City Administrator LaTisha Paslay explained that in order for sales to be allowed, the city would have to pass an ordinance that includes such things as definitions, use regulations, zoning district(s) in which cannabis sales would be allowed and any setbacks from certain types of businesses, such as home day cares and home health facilities.
Paslay said that the issue of cannabis sales first has to go before the city’s planning commission and zoning board of adjustments, and the council voted on Monday to have those bodies review the draft of an ordinance.
She said that instead of having each body review the draft of that ordinance independently, the city is having members of both the zoning board of adjustments and planning commission participate in a public hearing via telephone conference.
That hearing has been set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.
After reviewing the ordinance draft, those two bodies would send the ordinance back to the council for action.
Paslay told aldermen that if the council should decide to allow cannabis sales, it would also need to determine what types of licenses to allow, for such things as craft growers and dispensaries, and also set the number of licenses for each type.
The council has the option, Paslay said, of allowing cannabis sales as a permitted use or a special use.
With the latter, applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis and would be reviewed by the city’s zoning board.
As to where cannabis-related businesses would be allowed, Alderman Bret Brosman said, “My first thought on this topic is, I don’t want to see it in a residentially zoned neighborhood.
“But we have other zoning that I am pretty ambivalent about.”
Paslay said, “One location that always comes up with anybody who inquires about Vandalia, we have 120 acres, so that could be one of the possibilities.”
That land is off of Main Street in the area of Mattes Avenue on Vandalia’s west side.
“But, depending on where they build, they could be closer to a residential area,” Paslay said. “So that’s where the zoning code could restrict how many feet or yards, or whatever, from those locations.”
She said that someone has approached the city on the issue and that a potential grower has applied for a license with the state.
Alderman Dorothy Crawford urged moving ahead with the issue of cannabis sales.
“I think we’re getting pretty close to a year here, where we said that we were definitely going to get ahead of this thing and not be blindsided by not having an ordinances in place.
“So, since I think it’s probably time for us to get some ordinances in place, I would absolutely recommend that the zoning board (and planning commission) take at look at this and write up some recommendations for us.
After that action was taken, Paslay pointed out to alderman that revenues listed in the financial report includes that from cannabis use tax.
She said that the state has approved the sale of CBD oil and that the city is starting to see some revenue from that.
The city revenues from that tax have been $1,152.35 during fiscal year 2020 and $331.82 in the current fiscal year.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council voted to revoke the permit for Vandalia Lake lot 139.
Alderman Russ Stunkel, chairman of the lake committee, pointed out that the council had earlier decided that instead of automatically renew lake lot permits on the north side, the city would have the lake committee chairman, city building inspector and city code officer inspect the lots.
He said that they determined that there were 16 lots on which the leaseholders needed to “fix certain things.”
Stunkel said that he has spoken with the leaseholder of lot 139 and that that person had even been given a 60-day extension, but that nothing had been done toward compliance.
• The council tabled discussion and possible action on changing the horsepower limitations for boats used on Vandalia Lake, with speed limits also being discussed.
• The council approved an ordinance for temporary permits allowing “outdoor dining and alcohol service to any restaurant and liquor license holder within 150 feet of their currently operated premises.”
That would be allowed as long as there is compliance with 21 conditions included in the ordinance, which was drafted in reaction to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 executive order.
Mayor Rick Gottman emphasized that the temporary permits will expire when Pritzker’s orders and disaster proclamation expire.
• The council approved an ordinance allowing temporary liquor licenses to cater events at locations other than their place of business, such as Charters Patio.
In those cases where the holder of the new Class T license is not the owner of record for the property on which catering is done, the legal owner must join in the license application.
• The council tabled an ordinance that would allow mobile food vendor licenses.

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