Glenview trustees have rejected a plan to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the village, citing concerns about its impact on the character of the neighborhood, property values and its proximity to children.
The Glenview Village Board of Trustees voted 4-2 on Oct. 21 against an application by Glenview resident Julie Stone to open Greenleaf Organics at an existing building in an industrially zoned area on West Lake Avenue near Greenwood Road. The move went against the village plan commission’s recommendation, which last month voted 5-0 in favor of the application.
Officials said the board’s final decision came after several meetings and many hours of public comment on what Trustee Philip White called the most controversial issue he’s faced in his nine years on the board.
“There’s just an overwhelming feeling in my opinion that this is not a use that people want in the neighborhood,” White said during the meeting, explaining that he thought the negative perception would hurt property values.
White was joined by trustees Scott Britton, Michael Jenny and Deborah Karton in opposing the application, while trustees Paul Detlefs and John Hinkamp voted in favor of the dispensary.
Most of the nearly 20 residents who spoke at the meeting were opposed to the dispensary being at that location.
Many said the area is frequented by children and expressed concerns that the dispensary would attract crime.
Opponents also argued the location was inappropriate because it’s less than 1,000 feet from the Taniel Varoujan Armenian School, where about 100 students attend Saturday classes on Armenian language and history in the Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church and community center.
State law prohibits dispensaries from opening in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care facility. While the dispensary argued that the Armenian school doesn’t qualify under the state’s definition of elementary and secondary schools, the state had not yet provided an opinion on the issue.
“The Armenian school may not be a school in the state’s eyes, but it is a school to us and part of the neighborhood’s character,” resident Lowell Zarzuela said during the meeting.
Several residents echoed Zarzuela’s views, including Allison Elias, who submitted more than 600 signatures from people opposed to the dispensary’s location.
An Illinois law took effect in January creating a pilot program that permits patients with certain medical conditions to obtain ID cards to purchase and use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
It allows for the creation of 22 cultivation centers throughout the state where the cannabis can be grown as well as 60 dispensaries to sell the marijuana. Dispensaries must receive local approval before seeking a license from the state.
While local governments may apply zoning regulations to proposed dispensaries, they can’t impose unreasonable restrictions on their location or go beyond state distance requirements.
Glenview restricts dispensaries to areas zoned for light industrial use, leaving few spots that also meet state rules.
Sanford Stein, attorney for Stone and Greenleaf Organics, said they’ll consider legal options for fighting the board’s decision.
“This is a legal land use at that location pursuant to the conditional use,” Stein said. “We think they made a mistake.”
Stone said she wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary to help those suffering from cancer and other ailments, saying that last year seven people close to her were diagnosed with or died of cancer.
She told the board she planned to operate the business like a doctor’s office, accepting one patient every five minutes by appointment during “reasonable hours of operation” Monday through Saturday.
Stone said she planned to implement several security measures, including installing a machine to collect cash payments and hiring two unarmed guards to patrol the site during business hours.
Trustee Detlefs said he agreed with a resident who said they don’t see any more danger than if children were to walk by a drug store or hospital.
“I’m just struggling with what it is that’s going to happen there that’s going to change the character of the neighborhood or be a danger to children,” he said.
While the board may have squashed Stone’s proposal, medical marijuana dispensaries could still open in the surrounding area.
Officials said state rules permit one dispensary in either New Trier or Northfield townships and one in Maine or Wheeling townships, all of which are partly located within Glenview village boundaries.
Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune
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