KANKAKEE — Kankakee County Board members debated modifying the county’s zoning requirements for cannabis dispensaries before approving an amendment that would allow the facilities to apply to locate in the county’s agricultural zones.

The text approved Tuesday amends County Code Sections 121-99 and 121-209 with new wording that allows dispensaries to be placed closer to surrounding businesses and operate outside and run drive-thrus in extraordinary circumstances, in addition to existing in agricultural zones.

Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said the suggested changes were dictated by the market.

“A dispensing facility will not locate in the middle of nowhere in rural Kankakee County; they want traffic flow,” he said.

Previously, dispensaries could only apply for a special use permit to locate in Kankakee County’s commercial or industrial districts, excluding municipalities with their own zoning rules. Most of the outer county is zoned for agricultural use.

“We have had few inquiries on some properties and would like to change the minimum setback from 2,500 feet, which is almost a half a mile, to 1,500 feet, a little over a half a mile,” said Delbert Skimerhorn, Kankakee County’s planning manager, while presenting on the amendment.

The setback dictates how far dispensaries would have to be distanced from the property

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