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Marijuana dispensary developer eyes former bank in downtown Dixon

This artist rendering shows what the Freya recreational marijuana dispensary would look like if developers are successful in getting a license from the state and setting up shop at 98 S. Galena Ave.
This artist rendering shows what the Freya recreational marijuana dispensary would look like if developers are successful in getting a license from the state and setting up shop at 98 S. Galena Ave.

DIXON – The developer wanting to bring a recreational marijuana dispensary to Dixon is looking at the former US Bank building downtown for its location.

In September, April Glosser, CEO of Thrive Market Intelligence management consulting agency in Rochelle, gave a presentation to the City Council about interest in opening a dispensary in town, pending approval of a state license in 2020.

Glosser, City Manager Danny Langloss and Jeremy Englund, executive director of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street, spoke to the Plan Commission on Thursday about the proposed business prior to the group approving zoning regulations for marijuana establishments.

Four families that grew up in rural Illinois towns decided to partner to try and open a dispensary, named Freya, and they looked at several different communities, Glosser said.

“Dixon really stood out with its progressive approach to the way your downtown is blossoming,” she said.

By having the dispensary at the former US Bank building at 98 S. Galena Ave., it would take care of filling an empty storefront and would bring in secondary revenue with customers exploring other downtown businesses, Englund said.

“We need to treat it the same as any other legal business, rather than wanting to put it on the outskirts of town,” he said.

Recreational marijuana will become legal in Illinois for those 21 and older starting Jan. 1.

According to zoning rules the Plan Commission approved, dispensary development will be a permitted use in the general business district and the central business district, but business owners would need a special use permit to build in a limited neighborhood business district, business park or manufacturing district.

The state will award licenses for new recreational dispensaries in May. Three of 75 licenses will be granted in the Northwest Illinois region, made up of Bureau, Carroll, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lee, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson and Whiteside counties.

Glosser said they are also in talks with the city and Park District about ways to reinvest into the community, and are looking at partnerships with health-related businesses.

“We really want to be part of the business community and think we can contribute a lot,” she said.

The Plan Commission had a public hearing prior to the vote, and the only community member to speak was Margaret Brechon, who has approached the City Council and the County Board in the past few months speaking against marijuana, saying she’s worried it would cause health dangers and increased violence.

Commission member Seth Wiggins said they have opposite views on the issue, but they appreciated her input.

The zoning regulations lay out different restrictions for marijuana dispensaries and growing centers, including needing to apply for a license from the city in addition to the state.

No marijuana business will be allowed in or within 100 feet of a residential area, as well as within 100 feet of a school, day care center, park, recreation center, library or church, according to the ordinance. Also, two dispensaries or two cultivation centers will not be allowed within 1,500 feet of one another.

It will be a permitted use for a cultivation center, craft grower, processing or transporting organization to be located in the industrial park or manufacturing district.

The commission’s recommendation will go to the City Council next month for a final vote.

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