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18 October 2019

  • Women of Distinction honored Thursday
    Illinois Valley Living's seventh annual Women of Distinction awards luncheon was held Thursday at The Cider Mill in rural Princeton. This year's recipients were (front row, from left) Lisa Aber, Mary Jane Thornton and Jane Kunkel; and (back row) Aseret Loveland, Angie Charlet and Donna Braida. Unable to attend the event was recipient Kirsten Johnston. A full story, and more pictures, will be posted later.

  • Commission sticks to its marijuana zoning recommendation
    PRINCETON — Despite urging by the mayor to reconsider recreational marijuana zoning, the Princeton Plan Commission is sticking to its original recommendation.

    A special meeting was called Wednesday by Mayor Joel Quiram to ask the plan commission to further discuss its zoning recommendation, which he says is too narrow and likely to impede any cannabis-related business from wanting to come to Princeton.

    The commission voted during its last meeting to limit all cannabis-related businesses to manufacturing zone 2, north of Interstate 80 and with a special use permit.

    After much debate, some of it heated, commission member Jackie Davis proposed opening up the possibility of also including zone M1, also a manufacturing zone north of I-80, but in the end, the votes weren't there to support it. Chairman Jim Scruggs, Ian Cardosi and Matt Keutzer opposed it, Davis, Michael Wendt and Rodney Lange voted yes, but the lack of a majority defeated the proposal.

    Quiram hoped the plan commission would allow cannabis businesses access to zone B4, multipurpose business zones, but members of the commission were vehemently opposed to allowing cannabis businesses, especially retail, into the downtown area.

    "It's going to be legal January 1," Quiram said, "I don't want to see Princeton turn away businesses selling a legal product.

    "There's been some confusion, I think, saying I want this on Main Street. I don't want a dispensary there," Quiram continued. "People are saying business district like it's only from the courthouse square and North Main Street, but I consider the business district to be all the way north of town. I'm talking about retail when I say that, not a dispensary. North of the interstate is perfect for a dispensary."

    Revenue has been a talking point for the mayor since the discussion of retail cannabis sales was raised. Municipalities can impose up to a 3 percent tax on retail sales, which Princeton has voted to do.

    "Our police pensions are going up $100,000 next year ,and we're not yet sure what our fire pensions are going to," Quiram said. "We don't have that kind of money."

    "Revenue is revenue. I'm a mayor," he said, "I have to consider all revenue."

    A key issue, Quiram said, is that zone M2 is a manufacturing zone, which means the city council needs four votes to sell any land in that zone, and at this time, the council is divided over the issue of recreational marijuana. Council members Ray Mabry and Hector Gomez have indicated in previous open meetings they are not in favor of bringing cannabis sales to the city.

    "That puts the nail in the coffin," Quiram said. "Jim (Scruggs), you made that clear in your comments." (Scruggs previously stated he would like to limit zoning in order to limit desirability of land available to marijuana businesses).

    "In essence, you're trying to set policy, which is not the role of the zoning board, it's the role of city council," Quiram said.

    "(Zone) M2 is the largest zone we have," commission member Matt Keutzer said. "We aren't turning anyone away."

    "It's also the least desirable location," Quiram said.

    "No one should bring personal feelings into this," Quiram said. "This is not a product for kids. We have 16 establishments on Main Street alone that sell alcohol. Kids go by them all the time, and no one says anything about it. There are 18 more establishments throughout the city that sell alcohol."

    "Do you think drugs and alcohol are the same thing?" Keutzer fired back. "They aren't the same thing, and you know it. It's like saying cake and celery are the same because they're both food."

    "As a board, we're not here to turn anyone away," Ian Cardosi said. "This board has never discriminated against any business. If someone were to come here and request a special permit, we can review it. If they want it somewhere else, just bring it to us. My feeling is that at least now we have something in place and that is a legitimate start."

    The recommendation will now go to the city council for a vote.

  • Commission sticks to its marijuana zoning recommendation
    PRINCETON — Despite urging by the mayor to reconsider recreational marijuana zoning, the Princeton Plan Commission is sticking to its original recommendation.

    A special meeting was called Wednesday by Mayor Joel Quiram to ask the plan commission to further discuss its zoning recommendation, which he says is too narrow and likely to impede any cannabis-related business from wanting to come to Princeton.

    The commission voted during its last meeting to limit all cannabis-related businesses to manufacturing zone 2, north of Interstate 80 and with a special use permit.

    After much debate, some of it heated, commission member Jackie Davis proposed opening up the possibility of also including zone M1, also a manufacturing zone north of I-80, but in the end, the votes weren't there to support it. Chairman Jim Scruggs, Ian Cardosi and Matt Keutzer opposed it, Davis, Michael Wendt and Rodney Lange voted yes, but the lack of a majority defeated the proposal.

    Quiram hoped the plan commission would allow cannabis businesses access to zone B4, multipurpose business zones, but members of the commission were vehemently opposed to allowing cannabis businesses, especially retail, into the downtown area.

    "It's going to be legal January 1," Quiram said, "I don't want to see Princeton turn away businesses selling a legal product.

    "There's been some confusion, I think, saying I want this on Main Street. I don't want a dispensary there," Quiram continued. "People are saying business district like it's only from the courthouse square and North Main Street, but I consider the business district to be all the way north of town. I'm talking about retail when I say that, not a dispensary. North of the interstate is perfect for a dispensary."

    Revenue has been a talking point for the mayor since the discussion of retail cannabis sales was raised. Municipalities can impose up to a 3 percent tax on retail sales, which Princeton has voted to do.

    "Our police pensions are going up $100,000 next year ,and we're not yet sure what our fire pensions are going to," Quiram said. "We don't have that kind of money."

    "Revenue is revenue. I'm a mayor," he said, "I have to consider all revenue."

    A key issue, Quiram said, is that zone M2 is a manufacturing zone, which means the city council needs four votes to sell any land in that zone, and at this time, the council is divided over the issue of recreational marijuana. Council members Ray Mabry and Hector Gomez have indicated in previous open meetings they are not in favor of bringing cannabis sales to the city.

    "That puts the nail in the coffin," Quiram said. "Jim (Scruggs), you made that clear in your comments." (Scruggs previously stated he would like to limit zoning in order to limit desirability of land available to marijuana businesses).

    "In essence, you're trying to set policy, which is not the role of the zoning board, it's the role of city council," Quiram said.

    "(Zone) M2 is the largest zone we have," commission member Matt Keutzer said. "We aren't turning anyone away."

    "It's also the least desirable location," Quiram said.

    "No one should bring personal feelings into this," Quiram said. "This is not a product for kids. We have 16 establishments on Main Street alone that sell alcohol. Kids go by them all the time, and no one says anything about it. There are 18 more establishments throughout the city that sell alcohol."

    "Do you think drugs and alcohol are the same thing?" Keutzer fired back. "They aren't the same thing, and you know it. It's like saying cake and celery are the same because they're both food."

    "As a board, we're not here to turn anyone away," Ian Cardosi said. "This board has never discriminated against any business. If someone were to come here and request a special permit, we can review it. If they want it somewhere else, just bring it to us. My feeling is that at least now we have something in place and that is a legitimate start."

    The recommendation will now go to the city council for a vote.

Reuters National News

18 October 2019

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