Woodstock council members talk medical marijuana proposal

WOODSTOCK – Two City Council members and the Woodstock mayor say they're open to public input on a developer's interest in putting a medical marijuana dispensary in town.

But the proposed dispensary's location within 1,000 feet of two parks – although separated by a highway and wetlands, in one case – didn't spark much initial concern from Councilmen Joe Starzynski and RB Thompson.
"It's a medical use, it's legal," Starzynski said. "I don't believe there's a real danger."

The Woodstock Plan Commission recommended in July that City Council members pass two variances that would clear the way for 4500 NW Highway LLC to put a dispensary at 2300-2312 S. Eastwood Drive. City Council approval, however, wouldn't guarantee that the developer is approved by the state.

The issue will come up Tuesday at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

"Certainly it is something for the city of Woodstock to consider as a possible business entity within our municipal boundaries," Mayor Brian Sager said.

Sager declined to provide his opinion of the dispensary before next week's meeting.

The proposal places the prospective business within 1,000 feet of a small park off Pond Point Road.

Thompson said based on the small size of the park and its location across Route 47 from the proposed dispensary, he didn't have any major concerns with approving a special-use permit.

"I'm not stricken with fear," he said.

His feeling extended to a second park within the 1,000-foot requirement – Davis Road Soccer Complex, which sits on land about 990 feet from the dispensary, although the soccer fields are well outside the limit.

But he added he'd wait until the meeting to make up his mind.

"I want to be informed here," Thompson said. "I respect input from Woodstock citizens. They're always spot on."

The City Council also will have to approve a variance to allow the dispensary in a M1 light industrial district. The city passed an ordinance in the fall that said a dispensary would have to be located in a general business district, service and retail district or shopping center district.

Starzynski said he'd heard from one resident who wondered how the dispensary would affect the town's image. But he countered that point.

"What damage does our image take for allowing a legal use for something?" Starzynski said.