A “green light letter” to open a medical marijuana dispensary business on Roosevelt Road turned a flashing red as the Forest Park village council voted to install a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries for 45 days – down from the originally suggested six months — at Monday’s village council meeting.
Saying the village attorneys needed more than “just a couple of weeks to get their arms around” the new medical cannabis rules, Mayor Anthony Calderone said the village did not have any specific complaint against the dispensaries.
Commissioner Mark Hosty suggested changing the timeline of the moratorium to 45 days, enough time to get the dispensaries on the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting agenda for Aug. 18 and then face the village council again in September.
“[A moratorium] will knock everybody out, and be bad for Forest Park,” said business woman Linda Cibula, by phone before the meeting. Cibula said she’s been working for two years to open a dispensary and now has an option to purchase the building housing Kevil’s restaurant on Circle Avenue.
Frank Kevil also spoke to the council Monday.
“I’ve sold my place twice,” he said. Both times, the sale – the first time to a developer who wanted to build senior housing – was contingent on village approval, which fell through. “Who can I sell to?” Kevil asked the commissioners.
At the prior council meeting, Cibula and Tanya Griffin, of Western Springs both spoke to the village council about applying for licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Forest Park.
Griffin had requested a green light letter to add to the application of her as-of-yet unidentified company to open a dispensary in the vacant Deal$ Dollar store property at 7709 Roosevelt Rd.
At the time, Calderone and the council seemed excited to be considered for a dispensary, since only one can be located in three townships, Leyden, Proviso and Norwood Park.
“We may be lucky enough that we’ll be where one will be located,” Calderone said in June.
Dispensaries bring a one-percent sales tax revenue to the supporting municipality and businesses sometimes also pay an additional location bonus to the hosting community.
In Cibula’s case, she said she would be buying a property in Forest Park and had made arrangements to hire 15 local people.
She said she spent over $100,000 and hired an architect and had contracted with a security company for the planning.
Griffin said the Village of Brookfield also instituted a moratorium on medical pot dispensaries in June, shortly after she made inquiries about locating in Brookfield. Her company also tried in LaGrange, on Burlington Avenue, but were zoned into “light industrial” area, which killed the proposal.
Griffin said by phone Forest Park was appealing because of its proximity to Hines VA hospital and that two of the company founders are former members of the U.S. Marines.
“If you do enact this moratorium in conflict with the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Care Act,” Griffin told the village commissioners, “you are in all practical terms prohibiting a medical cannabis dispensary.”
David King, a local commercial real estate broker, who formerly represented the owner of the Deal$ site and who has helped with the comprehensive plan said before the meeting by phone he thought the moratorium was a prudent idea.
“From an economic development perspective, I applaud the village for proposing a moratorium so the community can take a hard look at where in Forest Park we would want a medical marijuana dispensary,” King said.
Calderone said at Monday’s meeting that he was not opposed to the dispensaries.
“I get the passion,” he said. “I have no objection, none, to this type of use in the Village of Forest Park. “
Hosty suggested the timeline of applications would zero out the possibility of a Forest Park dispensary if the village waited six months to decide the zoning issue. “We would be doing ourselves a disservice,” Hosty said. “Let Forest Park have a fair shot,” he urged.
The matter will come before the ZBA at its Aug. 18 meeting.
Fire equipment grant
The Village of Forest Park Fire Department received a $23,000 grant from FEMA for a new apparatus, Fire Chief Steve Glinke said Monday.
The Hurst “Jaws of Life” tool is a rescue device that can both cut and grab in an emergency. Glinke said the department’s old tool required a hydraulic pump that made it clumsy. The new device is battery powered and can be transported into buildings and around fires and emergency sites more quickly, Glinke said.
Sewer separation study proposed
Village Engineer Christopher Burke, of Christopher Burke Engineering told the village council Monday that he would prepare an initial study to work on separating Forest Park’s combined sewer system to process sewage and storm runoff in separate pipes.
“The massive flooding in this region and the high intensity floods,” have made the pre-World War II sewer system of Forest Park and its neighbors obsolete, Burke said. Burke suggested a phased changeover to a separated system that would channel storm water into a holding area and then eventually released into the Des Plaines River without mixing it with waste water.
Elmwood Park has disconnected 250 acres of sewer lines from storm lines, phased in over the years, Burke said. River Forest is now working on a major overhaul of its north side sewers with initial work possible this fall.
Burke said he’d prepare numbers for a survey, which would include an initial report followed by computer modeling and a detailed survey with costs.
Calderone said he thought Village Administrator Tim Gillian might be able to look for a grant to pay a portion of the money for the survey.
Burke said after the meeting he would return to the village council with a proposal at the next meeting.