Henry County Board split on medical marijuana

Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014, 9:51 pm
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By Lisa Hammer, correspondent@qconline.com
CAMBRIDGE -- In a 10-10 tie, Henry County Board members Thursday failed to approve a resolution of support for medical marijuana cultivation or a dispensary center in the county.

State law requires counties to create at least one type of zoning for medical marijuana centers. Some counties are opting for agricultural zoning; others are using industrial or special use designations.

Henry County's planning and zoning committee will discuss whether to incorporate the new zoning designation into existing laws or to amend those laws to make it fit.

Supporting the medical marijuana resolution were Jake Waller, Tim Wells, Dennis Anderson, Don DeDobbelaere, Jim Findley, Roger Gradert, Jim Kursock, Jerry Thompson, John Sovanski and Rick Livesay. Voting against it were Kathy Nelson, Bill Preston, Loren Rathjen, Karen Urick, Jan May, Tom May, Ted Sturtevant, Ann DeSmith, Marvin Gradert and JoAnne Hillman.

Officials with a proposed rural Geneseo medical marijuana cultivation project announced they won't proceed with the application process after eight rural Geneseo residents spoke strenuously against a proposed location north of Geneseo. The residents cited concerns about security, property values, the area's character, attracting a criminal element, the message sent to children and the federal illegality of marijuana.

"I would rather live in a county that set the bar a little higher than everyone else and not just look to make a quick dollar," said Greg Nelson.

Phil Jordan, one of the four partners in the proposed project, said he respected residents' comments.

"Many are personal friends and certainly neighbors and business associates," he said. "Therefore, GenTech Seed Services will not be pursuing this any further."

Kathleen Repass, director of the Henry County Economic Development Partnership, said work begun four months ago on the project included a poll of every mayor or city administrator in the county.

"Everyone said they were interested in learning more about it," she said. But she noted there are almost no sites in Henry County that meet the setback requirements from residential property, schools and day care centers.

Also on Thursday, the board voted 11-9 not to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot about using county funds for Hillcrest Home, the county-owned nursing home.

Voting against the referendum were Mr. Waller, Mr. Kursock, Ms. May, Mr. May, Mr. Sovanski, Mr. Sturtevant, Mr. Thomspon, Ms. DeSmith, Ms. Hillman, Mr. Preston and Ms. Urick. Voting in favor were Mr. Wells, Mr. Anderson, Mr. DeDobbelaere, Mr. Findley, Mr. Livesay, Ms. Nelson, Mr. Rathjen, Roger Gradert and Marvin Gradert.

Ms. Urick, health and social services chairman, asked why the issue was brought to the board in August, the last possible meeting before the ballot deadline.

"Any referendum should be held over one month," she said. She added the referendum's wording would encourage people to vote no.

She said Hillcrest Home is Henry County's largest employer with 129 full- and part-time jobs. Those employees viewed the proposed referendum as questioning the validity of their jobs, she said.

"Hillcrest Home lives within its budget and is not a financial drain on this county," Ms. Urick said. She said half its residents are on Medicaid.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)