A city zoning panel Friday gave a thumbs-up to six more medical marijuana dispensaries in Chicago while denying one proposal and putting off decisions on six others.
Prospective medical marijuana dealers made their pitches to the Zoning Board of Appeals to set up in various neighborhoods, touting their security and financial plans.
The board approved all but one of the applicants who came forward Friday. The applicants each will still need to vie for one of a handful of state licenses to open the businesses in Chicago.
In addition, the Zoning Board heard its first plan for a marijuana-growing facility, approving an application at 12233 S. Avenue O near the Hegewisch neighborhood on the Far Southeast Side.
Perry Mandera, owner of a Near North Side strip club called VIP’s, A Gentleman’s Club, got the go-ahead for a permit to operate a cannabis dispensary in the meatpacking area of the West Town neighborhood, at 1105 W. Fulton Market.
The approval came despite opposition from three area residents who live around Fulton Market and said they worried about safety because of cash pickups at the dispensary, and additional congestion because of the heavy truck traffic and limited parking available near where Mandera wants to operate.
Ald. Ed Burke had asked at a previous meeting that a proposed dispensary in his 14th Ward, at 4568-70 S. Archer Ave., be deferred as he pushed for tougher security measures, including 24-hour security guards at all Chicago dispensaries. On Friday, Burke threw his support behind the application for that business and one at 5648 S. Archer Ave. The Zoning Board approved permits for both.
Burke’s support comes despite the fact that two aldermen temporarily blocked his security plan at this week’s City Council meeting while asking for an opinion from the city Law Department on whether stricter rules for Chicago dispensaries would run afoul of the state medical marijuana rules. Burke said Friday that he expects to go ahead with his ordinance at the next council meeting, regardless of the Law Department’s opinion on its legality.
“Lawyers can have different opinions, and my attorneys tell me we’re on very solid ground with this,” Burke said. “And I believe a majority of members of the City Council will support it as well.”
The board denied the application for a proposed dispensary at 1811 W. North Ave., near the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood. Board members expressed concern about CEO Tami Marron’s plan to allow people who had not qualified to receive medical marijuana into the business for consultations.
And they questioned her about the fact her company had not yet reached an agreement with a bank to accept the large cash deposits from the depository.
City spokesman Pete Strazzabosco said the board cited an “interior configuration issue that would have an adverse impact on the public way and patient environment” in denying the North Avenue application.
The locations of other proposed dispensaries that got the go-ahead to receive special-use permits were:
•4758 N. Milwaukee Ave., where a group that also has licenses to sell marijuana in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Nevada and Arizona wants to set up shop along a commercial strip near the Jefferson Park bungalow belt
•In a strip mall at 2723 N. Elston Ave., just south of a six-way intersection with Western and Diversey avenues, where applicants said they would also likely sell books, candles and other “complementary” products
•500 W. 18th St., east of the Dan Ryan Expressway between the Pilsen and South Loop neighborhoods
Six other proposed dispensaries on Friday’s agenda were pushed off to later meetings. Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, had a proposal for a dispensary in the Lakeview neighborhood, at 2843 N. Halsted St., deferred to next month to allow for more talk with residents. About 30 people turned up at City Hall to oppose the plan.
And Ald. John Arena, 45th, requested that a proposal for a vote on a dispensary a 47601/2 N. Milwaukee Ave. be delayed to allow for additional community discussions, according to Zoning Board staff.
Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, requested a delay in a bid for a selling operation at 1964 W. Peterson Ave., and Ald. Deborah Graham, 29th, asked for a decision to be put off for a proposal at 3118 N. Harlem Ave.
And two bids, at 3433 N. Pulaski Road and at 211 E. Grand Ave., were continued at the request of the applicants.
The Zoning Board granted special-use permits for three other proposed marijuana dispensaries at a previous meeting.
Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune
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