CHICAGO (CBS) — Bars, restaurants, shops – but a marijuana dispensary?
City officials are set to decide if a pot shop can open up in the Gold Coast, right in one of the busiest parts of the city. As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported Thursday night, the neighborhood has teamed up against the plan.
The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals will meet virtually on Friday morning to consider the dispensary’s plan. Residents we talked to on Thursday plan to make their voices heard during that meeting.
The Gold Coast is known for fine restaurants and tony shops, and constant hustle and bustle. Chicago-based PharmaCann wants to open a pot dispensary in the neighborhood – on West Maple Street in a building neighboring a well-known steakhouse.
Benita Flack and Jenna Alia do not want it there.
“They could find another place,” said Flack, a longtime resident.
“It increases traffic, and the fact it’s a cash business has an impact on the area,” said Jenna Alia, whose family owns Whispers Café in Mariano Park, the triangle bounded by State and Rush streets and Bellevue Place.
They are part of a group of longtime residents, business owners and parents of children who go to school down the street – who have come together with a message- marijuana doesn’t fit here in the neighborhood.
“We don’t need lines here,” said Flack.
City zoning rules prevent marijuana business from opening within 500 feet of a school, and according to the group in opposition, the proposed location is less than 550 feet from the Ogden International School at 24 W. Walton St.
“I feel strongly that it’s the wrong place for this dispensary because it’s really close to my daughter’s school which is Ogden International. I’m afraid if the dispensary is so close to a school kids may smell and inhale the fumes from marijuana,” said Terri Chen. “I just don’t feel that it’s appropriate for kids.”
Matt Newberger, president of the Mariano Park Advisory Board, said they are not opposed to a dispensary, but they’re against one opening on Maple Street.
“We have problems with the fact it’s going to create a tremendous amount of congestion on already one-way, single-pass street,” Newberger said.
At the virtual meeting of city’s Zoning Board of Appeals about the subject Friday morning, Newberger said the group will Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) in opposition of the application.
“PharmaCann itself said they’re going to service 1,000 customers a day,” Newberger said. “Where are those customers going to go? Where are they going to stand? Where are they going to go after they get the product? It’s really going to be a mess, we think.”
Molina reached PharmaCann, the company behind the dispensary plans, for a comment on this story both Wednesday and Thursday and had not heard back from as of Thursday night.