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Some Park Ridge neighbors oppose marijuana dispensary opening after aldermen vote to reconsider

Park Ridge neighbors oppose dispensary opening after aldermen vote to reconsider
Park Ridge neighbors oppose dispensary opening after aldermen vote to reconsider 02:43

CHICAGO (CBS)--  Another day, another fight against a pot dispensary in someone's backyard.

Opponents in this next story thought they won their crusade against cannabis in their neighborhood.

Instead, the issue is up for debate again Tuesday night.  

Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains.

"I've traveled and worked all over the world. I could live most anywhere and chose Park Ridge as home decades ago," said Steven Sarasin, reading from his collected thoughts about an eyesore in his neighborhood: the shuttered Park Ridge Veterans Club.

The VFW Hall has been vacant for 7 years and currently sits at 10 Higgins Road with holes in its roof and debris dangling.

Sarasin says anything would be better -well, almost anything.

"A business of this nature in a residential area is just completely inappropriate," said Sarasin of a recreational pot dispensary now proposed for the site.

Supporters say it would help revitalize the area and bring in revenue to Park Ridge.

Dr. Reggie Higgins scoffs at the tax argument. "What message are you sending to the children? I mean to the adolescents? To the young adults? That this is ok because we're going to profit from this and its going to help to pay our pensions?"

The cash-only business is raising security concerns too. Opponents' main worry is that the proposed dispensary backs up into a neighborhood with several families.

"There's children living within feet," said Sarasin.

You might have thought their fight was over after the Park Ridge City Council said no to the operation of a dispensary at 10 Higgins Road. But aldermen recently voted to reconsider that decision.

"I think a lot of the neighbors felt a little deflated," said Missy Langan who has attended several public meetings about the dispensary.

It is back on the table after representatives for the would-be dispensary owner proposed changes to its plan like routing traffic away from the residential area and installing landscaping as a sort of privacy shield.

Landscaping and improvements that will be made per the dispensary applicant

That's not good enough for Langan who wants the whole project killed – or at least moved to a different less residential location.

"No matter how much buffering you put on this property, it doesn't change the use of the building," she said.

Opponents are gathering the troops again for more rounds of public hearings.

The fate of the dispensary won't be known for weeks because the Council's reconsideration vote sends the proposal all the way back to the Planning and Zoning Commission whose members meet Tuesday night. That backstep as some may call it happened because of a legal requirement connected to a previous zoning change at 10 Higgins Road. Once "recommended" or "not recommended" by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the special use permit for the dispensary goes back to the Council.

CBS2 invited city officials to comment on the proposed dispensary but we were referred back to the hours of public comments made during meetings that are viewable online.

Representatives for the dispensary applicant sent CBS 2 several examples of current dispensaries (owned by other operators) that are located in residential neighborhoods. 


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