Ignoring a recommendation by the city's corporation counsel, Elgin City Council members moved forward with zoning approval for a medical marijuana dispensary on the city's southwest side.
Council members voted 8-1 to approve the petition by Salveo Health & Wellness of Chicago for a dispensary at 1330 Crispin Drive. Councilman Rich Dunne cast the lone dissenting vote.
Before that, council members voted 5-4 against Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley's recommendation to kick back the issue to the public and zoning commission, which conducted a public hearing on the matter Aug. 4.
Council members Tish Powell, John Prigge, Carol Rauschenberger, Terry Gavin and John Steffen cast that majority vote.
Attorney Charles Muscarello, who represents the Fox Bluff Corporate Center, where the dispensary would be located, said the commission ignored his clients' request for a continuance of the hearing, thereby denying due process.
Councilman John Steffen, who is an attorney, said he read the hearing's transcript and believes it was conducted fairly.
Muscarello intimated his clients would sue the city if the dispensary is approved. Gavin pointed out either side could have chosen to sue the city, depending on the outcome.
The dispensary is a much-needed service, Gavin said.
Fox Bluff business owners are concerned about a potential increase in crime, but Salveo CEO Alex R. Thiersch said studies show that crime decreases around dispensaries because of the high level of security required.
Prigge pointed out Salveo's security plan -- which includes at least 24 high definition cameras and security guards -- was approved by the city's police department.
Community Development director Marc Mylott said Salveo presented an amended zoning application, thereby addressing Muscarello's charge that the dispensary would be less than 1,000 feet from residential areas as required by city ordinance.
Medical marijuana typically has low THC content and therefore little street value, Thiersch said. Also, dispensaries are required to report patients who consume any marijuana on the premises, he said.
"This is a huge investment for me and my family," he said. "If anything goes wrong, I will lose my license and I will lose my business."
Mayor David Kaptain said "there may have been some issues" in how the public hearing was conducted.