ELGIN — The Elgin City Council Wednesday night approved the conditional use zoning that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary in a unit at 1330 Crispin Drive.The state will be issuing up to 60 licenses for such dispensaries, with Kane County allotted two. There are 14 applications pending for the Kane spots.The Elgin-based application is from Salveo Health & Wellness, LLC — a business started by Chicago attorney and entrepreneur Alex Thiersch and Rockford native and businessman John Dohm — and Garden 6 Joint Venture LGP to locate at the Elgin address.Voting against the measure were Rich Dunne, Toby Shaw, and Mayor Dave Kaptain. For it were Terry Gavin, Rose Martinez, Tish Powell, John Prigge, Carole Rauschenberger, and John Steffen.“Change can be difficult,” Powell said.She likened opposition to having the dispensary to a few years ago when the council decided to allow two pawn shops in town, when some were afraid it might bring crime.“Those fears have not been realized,” she said.Powell also noted that pharmacies in Elgin carry potent drugs and aren’t robbed on a regular basis. And medical marijuana, she said, would be a watered down version, when “unfortunately, you can probably buy the real thing in any neighborhood, anywhere.”Gavin noted that his wife works just a block-and-a-half from the dispensary, and he feels she will be safe — and if the measure didn’t pass Elgin would not get a dispensary.“Some people are letting their worst fears get ahold of them,” Steffen said. “Ultimately, having the dispensary will be helping people seeking relief for some serious conditions.”Kaptain said he voted against the measure because he didn’t have time to review the 500-plus pages transcript from a 6-hour Planning & Zoning Commission hearing Monday concerning the matter, a good portion of which was not emailed to the council until late Tuesday night.Shaw attended that hearing and heard too many discrepancies from the applicant.“This might not be the right time or the right place for this business,” Shaw said.A long strange tripEither way, the matter has taken a circuitous route to Wednesday’s vote.On Aug. 4, the planning and zoning commission recommended passing along to the city council consideration for approving the special use permit by a 6-1 vote. Commissioner Corey Dixon was the lone nay vote.Then, on Aug. 27, by a 5-4 vote the city council nixed a staff recommendation to send that request back to the planning and zoning commission — then voted 8-1 to approve moving along that conditional use for a final vote.On Sept. 10, by a 5-4 vote the council reversed its August decision and agreed to send the matter back to the commission.The reason: The city received a letter Aug. 15 from attorney Charles Muscarello in which Muscarello noted that client Harting Inc. of North America, 1375 Crispin Drive, had requested extra time to consider the dispensary application — a matter that was not ruled on at the initial commission hearing.With just four commissioners present Monday, the quartet voted 4-0 to approve parts, but not all, of a text amendment to the city’s medical marijuana facility ordinance requested by the petitioner in an attempt to protect it from future potential litigation.The same four commissioners — Anthony Pedote, Loretta Revesz, Jay Cox and Robert Siljestrom — voted 3-1 to re-forward the request for the dispensary’s conditional use permit with a negative recommendation. Siljestrom voting against the motion to deny.These amendments included noting that the facility must be at least 1,000 feet from any pre-existing residential area, that the open space referred to in the original ordinance is that space intended to be used and enjoyed by the public, and that the distance from the dispensary to other uses be measured from the actual location — not the business park’s property line.While the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended the first two changes, it voted to measure the distance from property line to property line — which puts the dispensary too close to homes on McLean Boulevard by nearly 200 feet.Wednesday, Steffen noted that the commission’s recommendations would make it close to impossible for a dispensary to locate anywhere in Elgin.As such, the council voted 8-1 to accept staff’s recommendations, with Dunne the lone nay vote.During the public comment portion of Wednesday’s council meeting, people from several businesses near where the dispensary would be spoke of their fears and concerns.Harting Ltd. Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Theresa Morehead said the company feared for the safety of the public and its employees if the dispensary opens. RPS Engineering founder Rich Sturgis said that business might hire armed guards of its own at $70,000 per year, worried about property values, and called the dispensary plans unsecure and a bad idea.Joe Graziano, Jr., part owner of Terry Lynn, Inc., expressed concerns about crime and traffic and said the company might move out of town. And Erik Landrowski of NGS Printing noted concerns about the ownership and management behind Salveo.Powell said all of this may have been avoided if Thiersch had reached out to the businesses near where he hopes to open.Pending state approval aside, the matter is far from over.After the meeting Wednesday, attorney Muscarello said the property owners in the Fox Bluff Corporate Center “intend to challenge the action of the City Council, as it did not comply with either the Elgin municipal code or Illinois law.”[embedded content]
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