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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Pike County board adopted a zoning ordinance dictating where cannabis related facilities may be placed in the county at the group’s Monday, Sept. 27 meeting.
According to County Board Chairman Jim Sheppard, much of the new county ordinance’s language was borrowed from ordinances already in place in other units of government.
“Our ordinance copied a lot of language from state law,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard said that, in passing the ordinance, the board attempted to take a moderate approach to allowing the proliferation of cannabis related development in the county.
“We tried to take a middle of the road approach,” Sheppard said. “There is a 300 foot setback of any development from churches. Of course, it is only allowed in certain zones – essentially industrial areas.”
The board also adopted other zoning ordinance changes, which are designed to allow for greater discretion on the part of Pike County Zoning Administrator, Greg Wyatt, in terms of allowing development activities in the county.
“The changes should make it easier to gain a building permit,” Sheppard said. “The changes let the zoning administrator rely more on his judgement – rather than making someone notify neighbors, go to the planning commission, on to the zoning board of appeals and the full county board.”
Sheppard said the changes are an effort to encourage economic activity in Pike County.
“We tried to streamline the process,” Sheppard said. “There were some aspects to the zoning document we felt were too restrictive to economic development.”
The board also adopted the next year’s health reimbursement accounts (HRA) for county employees.
According to Sheppard, county employees will see no changes to their benefits with the new accounts.
“There are no benefit changes to the employees,” Sheppard said. “Employees will see exactly the same out of pocket and deductible costs.”
The new plans, however, may open the county up to greater risk.
“We potentially have greater exposure at the HRA level,” Sheppard said.
The adoption of the HRAs passed five to three – with Derek Ross, Amy Gates and John Birch casting “no” votes.
Derek Ross had asked that the county’s property casualty insurance be put out for bid this year, however the board did not meet the current property casualty insurance provider’s deadline for notification of non-renewal.
“The Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust (ICRMT) requires a 90 day notice, which would have been Sept. 2nd,” Sheppard said.
According to Sheppard, the board discussed putting the property casualty plan out for bid next year.
“We agreed next year we could go to bid in June,” Sheppard said.
In other business, Cindy Prentice was approved as a commissioner of the Pike County Housing Authority, with a term expiring June 30, 2022.
Len Wiese was approved a as commissioner for the McGee Creek Levee and Drainage District.
Steven R. Myers was approved as a commissioner for Valley City Drainage and Levee District.