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Government, Politics & Issues

Fairview Heights Moves Closer To Having A Marijuana Dispensary, But It’s Still Months Away

Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky addresses the council on Dec. 17, before they vote to allow cannabis sales in the community. The council voted 7-3 to allow cannabis related businesses to open in the community.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio
Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky addressed the council on Dec. 17, before they voted to allow cannabis sales in the community. The council voted 9-1 on regulations for marijuana businesses that do open in the community.

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The City Council voted nine to one on Tuesday to approve regulations for recreational marijuana businesses that want to open in the community. 

The ordinance specifies which kind of businesses can open in Fairview Heights — whether that be a dispensary, cultivator, craft grower or other facility. 

Initially, the rules are restrictive compared to other Metro East communities. Fairview Heights will only allow one recreational cannabis dispensary to open in the city. All other kinds of marijuana-related businesses are prohibited.

“We decided as a community right now we would try one, should it be successful or problematic,” said Andrea Riganti, director of land use and development. “That way we aren’t setting ourselves up for more than we can adequately handle.” 

The city will evaluate how a single dispensary initially impacts the entire community and re-evaluate its rules accordingly, Riganti said.

“We can go back and amend the ordinance to increase the number,” she said. “Right now, we’re taking a cautious approach.”

Fairview Heights is different from other Metro East cities still deciding how to handle cannabis businesses, because the rules its government writes directly impact one of the next recreational dispensaries that will open in the region. 

Ascend Wellness, which owns Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville, has repeatedly identified Fairview Heights as the site of its next recreational dispensary. The company purchased 455 Salem Place in the city one day after the City Council voted to allow recreational marijuana sales.

Riganti confirmed the company is renovating it to be a dispensary.

“I did speak with them and indicate we don’t have regulations in place currently,” she said. “The site they’re working on may not adhere to anything that is ultimately adopted.”

Next steps

The ordinance passed Tuesday doesn't specify where the city’s one dispensary can open. That process is set up through the city’s zoning code, which has not been amended yet and will not be until March or April at the earliest, Riganti said.

The business regulations also require any dispensary obtain a special use permit from the city before it opens. Riganti said this three- or four-month process will give Fairview Heights more control.

“There are uses that are considered potentially harmful for a community because of noise, traffic, odor,” she said. “They require an additional layer of review by both staff as well as our planning commission and ultimately City Council.”

Riganti expects summer will be the earliest a dispensary could open in the community. 

Neighbor to the north

Collinsville contrasts Fairview Heights' more conservative approach to the expanding recreational marijuana industry in Illinois. Having the region’s only recreational dispensary has brought many visitors and their money to Collinsville, said Assistant City Manager Derek Jackson.

“Someone comes to our community from out of town, obviously for an intended purpose,” he said. “But on the way out, that’s when they solicit our other businesses.”

Those other businesses could include a fast-food restaurant, gas station or shops in the citys uptown district, Jackson said. The city also earns tax revenue from individual marijuana purchases and could make around $1 million each year from sales tax revenue.

“We’re expecting that ballpark conservatively,” Jackson said. “We’ve seen reports anywhere up to $3 million to $4 million on an annual basis.” 

Read More: Illinois Sells Nearly $40 Million Of Recreational Marijuana In January

The city will dedicate tax revenue from marijuana into its capital projects fund. Beyond just selling legal cannabis in the city, Jackson said he sees cultivation centers in Collinsville's future. He identified undeveloped areas along Horseshoe Lake Road near Interstate 255. 

“There’s a gap in the market for 75,000 to 150,000 squarefoot warehousing,” Jackson said. “If someone wants to open a cultivation center in Collinsville, we’re very ripe for that business.”

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid 

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