Monday, three medical marijuana dispensary hopefuls moved through the next step to becoming eligible, if chosen by the state, to open shop in Forest Park. The village council approved conditional use permits for each of the three. The village also unveiled proposed “host agreements” that would require a laundry list of goodies from the vendors to the village government and the community.
Approved Monday were conditional use permits for St. Fiacre’s, Mon Cherie and Curative Health, LLC.
Also at the meeting, Commissioner Chris Harris said the village and zoning board did not get adequate resident input before deciding in which category of zoning to allow dispensaries to open. Neighbors continued to complain about the proposed location of St. Fiacre’s, at 7228 Circle Ave., the current site of Kevil’s restaurant.
By law, one percent of sales tax on medical cannabis products goes into the village’s coffers.
But in addition, the proposed host agreements ask for $10,000 cash from each company at startup, and a $25,000 yearly “community contribution” to local charities in addition to the one percent sales tax.
Mayor Anthony Calderone said the host agreements were cribbed from agreements in other states with legalized medical pot.
The village also mandated each company agree to hire five full-time staff from Forest Park and four part-timers. The agreement gives first priority to local businesses to bid on contracts for services such as heating and air-conditioning, contractors, flooring, office furniture, waste removal and phone systems.
“We were going to do all that anyway,” said Linda Cibula of St. Fiacre’s.
In a closely guarded state selection process, only one license will be issued to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a region that includes Forest Park and covers Proviso, Leyden and Norwood townships.
In September, the state of Illinois reported 211 dispensary hopefuls submitted applications to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for 60 potential sites throughout the state.
The three potential sites are: St. Fiacre’s on Circle Avenue.; Mon Cherie, to be located at 7501-11 Roosevelt Road; and Curative Health, LLC, slated for 7621 Roosevelt Rd.
At Monday’s meeting, neighbors of the Circle Avenue site returned to urge the council to vote ‘no.’ The neighbors submitted 176 citizen signatures to the ZBA Oct. 20 opposing the site. South-side neighbors presented 100 signatures opposing the Roosevelt Road sites.
The ZBA voted to allow dispensaries in districts zoned B-2 (for business) and I-1 and I-2 industrial districts.
But in public comments, Bruce Jensen said the B-2 zoning designation for the neighborhood around Kevil’s was obsolete. He pointed out the new comprehensive plan recommends a zoning overhaul. He said more than 350 people live very close to the site. “As I walk my dog, I don’t see a lot of commercial property,” he said.
Pat Burke said traffic and safety concerns for local children were reasons to vote against the Kevil’s location.
Glenn Siegel pointed out the “St. whatever-it-is” name made the business sound as though it was a not-for-profit or religious institution. “It’s a deceptive name,” he said.
Matt Heffner said the dispensary was “bad policy and bad politics.”
“It makes no sense to drive down property values for home owners and voters,” he said. “I’ve spoken to people and they’re angry and motivated. Right now they’re focusing their anger at the petitioner,” he said.
“We are voters and citizens and we’re trying to protect our children and property values.”
Ron Suber said 11 dispensaries would be located in Cook County outside of Chicago. He said other communities located their medical pot dispensaries in light industrial or commercially zoned areas.
He mentioned an Oct. 30 Sun-Times article where Chicago Police Chief Gary McCarthy spoke about the shootings, robberies and burglaries committed in Colorado around recreational pot shops because the companies are prohibited from using the traditional banking system for fear of money laundering schemes and therefore must deal in cash.
“The absence of banks has led to more burglaries,” Suber said. “Why take the risk?”
Not enough input?
Commissioner Chris Harris voted against all three dispensaries and the host agreements. He complained the village and ZBA had not really looked at whether to limit dispensaries to industrial zones only.
“We didn’t allow it in the downtown business district (B-1),” but allowed them in B-2 Harris said.
Millions of dollars to be spent on Roosevelt Road might be undermined by the presence of a pot dispensary, he said.
“We might ruin Roosevelt Road for the rest of the developers,” he said. “It’s short-sighted, we haven’t had the proper discussions.”
Harris hosted a virtual town hall on this subject on Facebook in August.