Decision on proposed Norwood Park medical marijuana dispensary delayed again




by BRIAN NADIG

A decision on whether to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open near the Milwaukee-Devon intersection in Norwood Park has been delayed a second time.

The city Zoning Board of Appeals was expected to hold a hearing on the proposal at its Aug. 21 meeting, but Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) requested a continuance, and the board rescheduled the hearing for its meeting on Friday, Dec. 18. The board originally was scheduled to hold a hearing in May, but that hearing also was continued at the request of the alderman.

The Union Group of Illinois is seeking the issuance of a special use permit to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to operate inside a former medical supply store at 6428-30 N. Milwaukee Ave. The zoning board acts independently of the City Council, and while the board considers recommendations from aldermen, it is not unusual for the board to vote against the wishes on the alderman whose ward would be most affected by a special use request.

The proposed dispensary would be the second on the Northwest Side, as the board previously approved a similar request for a building at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Jefferson Park. Under state law, no more than two dispensaries are allowed in Jefferson Township, which includes the Northwest Side and extends as far south as North Avenue and as far east as Western Avenue.

Napolitano held three community meetings on Union Group’s proposal and conducted polling of ward residents on the issue. More than than 70 percent of about 1,200 respondents through the end of July opposed the project.

Napolitano has said that while he would not want to live next to a dispensary, his own view would not affect the comments which he will make to the zoning board. He has said that any recommendation on whether to support or oppose the dispensary will be based on the majority opinion of his polling.

At the community meetings, some residents expressed concern that Union Group would seek to sell recreational marijuana if that were to become legal. Others said that the dispensary is not needed because the one in Jefferson Park will be able to serve the Norwood Park community.

Project officials have said that the city would require an additional zoning review process if recreational marijuana were to become legal. One of Union Group’s owners has said that he does not sell recreational marijuana at a medical dispensary which he operates in another state even though he has the option to do so.

Plans call for the dispensary to be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week and for the construction of a parking lot for patients next to the dispensary. Patients who visit the dispensary would be prohibited from opening the marijuana packages which they purchase until they arrive home, according to project officials.

Union Group, which license application was approved by the state, is expected to seek another extension from the state while it awaits for its December hearing in front of the zoning board. The state’s original deadline to obtain its special use expired several months ago.

Napolitano could not be reached for comment.




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