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Proposed McHenry medical marijuana cultivation center competing against 8 others

Proposed site in McHenry needs city, Illinois approval

McHENRY – A 44,000-square-foot building on the southwest side of McHenry could end up being the only medical marijuana cultivation center in a five-county area.

The proposal, however, first needs city and state approval.

The McHenry City Council is set to vote Monday evening on whether to allow Phoenix Farms of Illinois LLC to open a marijuana cultivation center at 1515 Miller Parkway, a former manufacturing site on the far southwest corner of the McHenry Corporate Center.

The site has been vacant for about three years, Deputy City Administrator Doug Martin said. The company has negotiated a purchase agreement for the location.

The plan received unanimous approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission at its Sept. 17 meeting. The City Council also signed on to an community and economic contribution agreement about a week and a half before that.

Though the agreement does not guarantee zoning approval for the cultivation center, it did translate to a letter of support from the city to the state on behalf of Phoenix Farms of Illinois as it headed into a very competitive licensing process.

The agreement was approved in a 6-1 vote with Alderman Andy Glab voting no. Glab favored the letter of support but had a problem with contribution agreements that are also in the agreement. He had requested the two items be separated into two votes.

Under the agreement, Phoenix Farms of Illinois would make contributions of $20,000 or 1.75 percent of its net earnings, whichever is greater, to the city for five years starting in April 2015 and then payments of $40,000 or 3.5 percent of net earnings for the five years after that. Contributions could follow in subsequent years if the agreement is extended.

The company also would make annual contributions to the McHenry Riverwalk Foundation and the Historic Petersen Farm Foundation of $5,000 total for the first five years and then $10,000 total for the following five years. These contributions also could continue beyond that period.

The city could change which organizations or what number of organizations receive the community contribution, the agreement said. The total amount given, though, would not change.

Any approval granted by the McHenry City Council would be contingent upon Phoenix Farms receiving a license from the state to open the facility.

The state’s medical marijuana pilot program allows for 22 cultivation centers spread across the state, one in each state police district. McHenry County shares a district with DeKalb, DuPage, Kane and Lake counties.

Nine applications, including Phoenix Farm’s, have been submitted for that district, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. A total of 159 applications have been submitted statewide.

Two applications have been submitted to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requesting to open the one medical marijuana dispensary that will be allowed in McHenry County.

If you go

The McHenry City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the McHenry Municipal Center, 333 S. Green St.

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