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LEXINGTON

Lexington City Council approves downtown cannabis dispensary

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LEXINGTON — Lexington may soon be home to a downtown cannabis dispensary after the City Council voted to approve an amendment to its zoning ordinance on Monday.

Having seen the council discuss the matter since July, Mayor Spencer Johansen said he thought the aldermen made an informed decision.

“This was nothing we rushed into,” he said. “Each council member has done their own research and homework. ... They were prepared.”

Mike Hawkins, a former high school principal who led an opposition group against the issue, said he was disappointed by the 5-1 vote, but “they did what they felt was right.”

The council voted to allow adult-use recreational cannabis businesses and a conditional-use permit for a potential dispensary at 112 N. Cedar St.

The Cedar Street location was proposed by Jon Kemp, owner of Kemp’s Upper Tap.

In a presentation to the council earlier this month, Kemp said he wanted to bring a high-end dispensary, adding that he had 15 years of experience operating a clean, upscale business, according to meeting minutes recorded Nov. 11.

The kind of clientele he is hoping to attract are the same people who are already eating and shopping downtown, he said.

Before the council voted, Hawkins had expressed concern for the location of the proposed dispensary, saying it sends the wrong message about the city.

“It’s right downtown and kids will be walking right by it to go to the post office or go to the bank,” he said.

However, despite his disappointment, Hawkins said Monday was “a great meeting” with a large turnout and “a lot of passion on both sides.”

He called it a great lesson in civics and said he will accept the council’s decision.

Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.

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