Newton City Council wants to hear what people think about proposed local restrictions on marijuana-related sales that become legal across Illinois in 2020.
Recreational use of marijuana becomes legal in Illinois with the start of the new year. Newton, like other smaller communities, is considering legal action to restrict sales of marijuana and retail items related to its use. The local ordinances, suggested by the Illinois Municipal League, cannot override state law, but they can ban businesses – craft growers and dispensaries -- related to the recreational marijuana use from the jurisdiction of municipalities.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Mark Bolander urged the city council act long before the new state law on marijuana use takes effect. However, he suggested hearings to gain public opinion on the issue. Council member David Brown agreed with holding a hearing or a series of them, especially because the marijuana issue will not go away with a change in the Governor’s office in the next election. It was also suggested including emergency services personnel to answer questions and possibly the Jasper County State’s Attorney.
“We should not just take a vote on it but hear from the people in town before we do,” Bolander said.
A tentative date of Oct. 22 was approved by the council for a hearing with Council members and possibly county officials present. If a big crowd is anticipated, the hearing could be located at Newton Community High School instead of the city council meeting room. A backup date will be Oct. 24 if a conflict is determined for Oct. 22.
Roll call on the public hearing on the marijuana law had Brooks, Brown, Eric Blake, Gayle Glumac, Larry Brooks and Marlene Harris voting in favor. Rob Reisner was absent during the Oct. 1 council meeting.
The council also approved a $2,500 Tax Increment Financing application for Meyer Funeral Home to complete concrete work on the west side of the funeral home. The total cost of the project is $8,000 with the TIF money offering assistance.
Mayor Bolander thanked community leaders for stepping up to help with community events in recent weeks. Council member Brooks said the consensus in the community was the Corvette Fest was a great success and enjoyed by people involved or attending the event that drew hundreds of Corvettes to Newton last month. Councilwoman Glumac also thanked the many young people assisting with recent community events.
With a lack of support apparently not forthcoming from families tied to the deceased in the cemetery mausoleum structure, Brown said the cemetery will complete in-house repairs on the old structure.
Councilman Blake read the animal control report that listed 12 city calls, six in the county, three dog bites and six dogs impounded.
The council then went into closed session for discussion of litigation and sale of property. No action was taken after the council members returned to open session. The council then adjourned. The next city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 in Newton City Hall.