The Geneseo City Council voted to opt out of the cannabis business, with the exception of local businesses that may choose to transport it, Tuesday night November 26, in their regularly scheduled meeting.
With a full agenda of regular items, those who came to speak during public comments had a long wait as the Council toiled through regular business before getting to the cannabis issue. Approximately ten speakers rose in opposition to recreational cannabis in Geneseo, none spoke in support.
After a few preliminary exchanges, Robert Wachtel (2nd Ward) motioned to opt out of recreational marijuana entirely, with a second by Doug Crow (4th Ward). A motion to amend was made subsequently by Brett Barnhart (4th Ward) and seconded by Martin Rothschild (3rd Ward) to allow the transporters of marijuana in Geneseo. This precludes all growers, infusers, dispensaries, on-premises consumption and craft growers, from operating in Geneseo.
Discussion of the proposed motion then ensued, with differing points of view being expressed. Paula Simosky (Ward 1) stated to other council members, "You think you can hide your heads and it's not going to be here? No!". The final vote was 6-2 with Wachtel and James as the dissenting votes, as they felt the transportation exception could be troublesome and required more research.
Alderman Sean Johnson (3rd Ward) stated,"From a free enterprise side of things, we should not close the door so tight as to preclude others from making a living."
Other business that went before the council included approving the final plat of the Sugar Maple Condo development. A motion for a Resolution calling for a Binding Referendum to Lengthen the Terms of the Elected Officials of the City of Geneseo for the 2020 ballot was voted on, and will appear on the ballot in the spring. Law offices of Ancel Glink was retained to continue providing legal services to the city.
Revisions in the city drug and alcohol policies were discussed, and changes in the City employment applications, due to the state’s legalization of marijuana, and the impact on current policies in the city. Changes were adopted after substantial discussion.
Donahue Engineering provided an update on the improvements to the Water Treatment plant, and advice on the IEPA loan necessary to pay for it. Donahue Engineering was hired at a cost of $25,000 to provide an idea of what the necessary repairs were going to cost. Early estimates came in at $8 million. The revised proposal for repair of the treatment plant, bringing the facility up to code in wiring and ventilation, moving headrooms, totaled $11.7 million. In a PowerPoint presentation,Terry Boyer of the engineering firm underscored the proposed changes being made. Also in the presentation were explanations on the IEPA loan process, and the potential of a 15% loan forgiveness program.
Prior to adjourning, Pastor Stephen Palm Of Geneseo E-Free Church, stated that he would reflect on the council's decision, regarding recreational marijuana by the council.