The city of Elgin will consider allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in an industrial park on the city's southwest side, but nearby business owners say that's a terrible idea.
Elgin's planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall, 150 Dexter Court, about the application submitted by Salveo Health & Wellness Ltd. of Chicago for a dispensary at 1330 Crispin Drive, Unit 215, in the Fox Bluff Corporate Center on the northeast corner of Bowes Road and McLean Boulevard.
"This dispensary is going to be very discreet, very professional, and very, very secure," said Salveo CEO Alex R. Thiersch, a Chicago lawyer.
The state of Illinois will issue licenses for up to 21 growers and 60 dispensaries; the application process is expected to open soon, with only two dispensaries allowed in Kane County, Thiersch said.
The Elgin location will have exterior lighting at all times and cameras recording high-quality footage 24 hours a day, the company says. Operating hours will be set by the state, possibly as 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Illinois, medical marijuana can be prescribed for pain management for 40 chronic diseases including Parkinson's disease, HIV and cancer.
Nearby business owners say medical marijuana businesses should be run out of hospitals, but zoning regulations approved by Elgin in January restrict them to industrial and office research parks.
The business owners say they are concerned about an increase in traffic and crime.
"For a host of reasons, it doesn't belong there," said Joe Graziano Jr., part-owner of Terri Lynn Inc. and Packaging By Design, located in the industrial park about half a block from the proposed dispensary. "It's going to bring all kinds of people after 4:30 p.m. You're going to draw traffic to all these buildings that are closed up. Vandalism is going to go up."
He pointed to residences across McLean Boulevard, and Robert Sperry Park across Bowes Road in South Elgin. "This (dispensary) is going to be exposed to them as well," he said.
Dispensaries in Elgin have to be 1,000 feet away from schools, day care centers and residential areas. The dispensary's entrance would face the back of the industrial park, which is more difficult to monitor, said Rich Stanis, president of RPS Engineering next door to the proposed dispensary.
"It's a new thing," he said. "We don't know that type of problems we're going to encounter."
Stanis said he fears increased crime, such as break-ins to steal the medical marijuana.
However, the dispensary's marijuana will be low in THC, the substance that causes euphoria, Thiersch said.
"It is literally just a treatment for medical conditions," he said. "There is not much value to breaking in and stealing that."
Stanis said he's concerned about the impact of the dispensary coupled with plans to build another building in the industrial park. He also worries about people who want to game the system, he said.
"People get illegally prescribed or generated prescriptions, so you don't know what type of element will be coming into our park," he said.
Illinois has the strictest marijuana law in the country, Thiersch said.
"There are preconceived notions about how it's going to work, based on misinformation," he said.
"When people see exactly how this is going to look and how secure this is going to be, a lot of their fears will be addressed."
Salveo also plans to submit applications for marijuana dispensaries in Rockford and Quincy, and for cultivation sites in Quincy and near Roseville, he said.