New regulations to allow a medical marijuana dispensary in LaGrange Park could be considered by the Village Board in October.The Zoning Board of Appeals recommended approval of amendments Sept. 16 to the town’s zoning ordinance. The changes would permit a dispensary to apply for a special use permit in the C-1 commercial district, generally near La Grange Road and 31st Street.But board discussion and possible approval in October will come too late for businesses rushing to meet the state’s Sept. 22 application deadline.In the first year of a four-year pilot program, a new law authorizes the state to grant licenses for 60 dispensaries and 22 cultivation centers. Marijuana could then be regulated, grown and sold to patients with a prescription for treatment of about 40 diseases and medical conditions.Village President Jim Discipio said Western Springs resident Tanya Griffin has expressed strong interest on behalf of an investment group in locating a dispensary on the north side of 31st Street, just east of La Grange Road.A second applicant also has contacted the village about where a dispensary could be located, Discipio said.“I’m all for medical marijuana and helping people who are sick have viable options to help in their recovery or eliminate discomfort or pain,” he said. “People may not like the idea of a dispensary in their neighborhood, but it’s here. There are some very sick people who could benefit.”Discipio said it’s unlikely a dispensary will locate in LaGrange Park, given that so few properties are suitable. A site would be required to serve all of Proviso, Leyden and one other township, he said.“I don’t think the percentage is high we’re going to get one,” he said. “There has to be better places that would be larger with better access.”Recommendations for regulations governing dispensary locations were referred to the Zoning Board to mesh the village’s zoning laws with state requirements. Dispensaries can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school or childcare facility and can’t be next to a residential area.Village officials had considered the town’s industrial section along Barnsdale Road north of 31st Street, but the area includes the Ready Teddy Preschool operated by the Community Park District of LaGrange Park.Unless changed, village zoning laws don’t allow a dispensary. Village attorney Cathy Keating said the new state law specifies municipalities can’t unreasonably restrict a dispensary. Some changes are needed so the village isn’t deemed unreasonable and subject to lawsuits, Keating said.Zoning Board members said it’s important to carefully weigh the law’s implications for the future. Restrictions could be lifted on the number of operators, and LaGrange Park should have appropriate regulations in place to deal with more applicants, members said.Members questions included security concerns, a change in dispensary ownership or operation, parking and signage issues, and whether a dispensary should be restricted to a free-standing building so as not to impact other tenants.Some concerns could be handled by state regulators, who would vet owners and operators. Other matters could be handled on a case-by-case basis. Each applicant would have to seek a special use permit, subject to a hearing and recommendation by the Zoning Board and approval by the Village Board.Tags: LaGrange Park [embedded content]
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