Joshua Cothren

Joshua Cothren (at right) addresses the Piatt County zoning board of appeals about a possible cannabis growing facility between Monticello and DeLand.

What could be the first legal cannabis grower in Piatt County was given the go-ahead by the Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday.

The ZBA voted 5-0 to endorse a special use permit for Joshua Cothren and Ronald Falk to erect an indoor cannabis craft grow facility on land located at Piatt County 1884 North 600 East Road, about four miles northwest of Monticello.

Cothren said a “craft” grower includes those producing smaller quantities, less than the 210,000 square feet needed to be in the commercial cultivation category. In contrast, he said there would be about 5,000 square feet of indoor growing space at the proposed Piatt County facility, which would raise and process crops for sale at dispensaries elsewhere.

“In comparison, the commercial operation is more like a Budweiser, whereas what we would be doing would be more like a Monarch Brewery,” said Cothren, comparing it to the smaller amounts of beer produced at the local brewpub.

The ZBA did include a condition that the applicant conduct water table tests and make sure the operation would not affect the water supply of adjacent neighbors.

Two additional approvals are needed in order for construction to begin. The Piatt County board will consider the conditional use permit for final approval at its Feb. 12 meeting, and the state needs to grant it a license, with the next round of approvals slated for this March.

Cothren said the business would employee about 15 to 20 people.