Ald. Napolitano discusses business issues, seeks more input on proposed medical marijuana dispensary
by BRIAN NADIG
First-term Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) is meeting many business owners for the first time this summer because he wanted to avoid door-to-door campaigning in the commercial districts during the campaign.
Napolitano said that he does not want merchants to feel pressured to give a political contribution and that he would have sent the wrong message had he introduced himself at each store during the campaign. "These are people’s livelihoods," he said. "I don’t want them to feel they have to support someone."
Napolitano was the guest speaker at the July 30 meeting of the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce. In response to concerns expressed at the meeting, Napolitano said that Commonwealth Edison is planning to reduce the number of electrical grids which serve the Edison Park commercial district in an effort to address power issues facing business owners.
Napolitano also has talked to the Norwood Park Chamber of Commerce about a possible special service area to help market and beautify the commercial areas along Northwest Highway and Higgins Avenue. A recommendation for a special service area was included in a study which the city Department of Planning conducted of the area at the request of former alderman Mary O’Connor.
Special service areas are funded through a property tax that is levied on properties in the area, and a local commission of property owners sets an annual tax rate and budget. There are 53 special service areas in the city, including in Sauganash and at Six Corners, and one has been proposed for Jefferson Park.
"This is something that we will not do unless the chamber, the residents and the community all want it," Napolitano said.
Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said that the study, which was conducted before Napolitano was elected, recommends that the special service area could be used to improve the "curb appeal" of the commercial district with beautification improvements and better maintenance, including removing snow from sidewalks. The chamber has not taken any formal action on the planning department’s recommendation for a special service area, which was one of several recommendations in the report.
Napolitano also said that ward residents have until Aug. 20, to visit the ward office, 7442 N. Harlem Ave., to register their support or objection to a proposal to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 6428-30 N. Milwaukee Ave. The results will be presented at the Aug. 21 hearing that city Zoning Board of Appeals will hold on the proposal.