Elgin reverses decision, delays pot dispensary approval
A plan to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Elgin suffered a setback Wednesday when a city council member changed her mind and decided to send the petition back to the city's planning and zoning commission.
Salveo Health & Wellness of Chicago wants to open a dispensary at 1330 Crispin Drive in the Fox Bluff Corporate Center on the southwest side of Elgin.
Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Tish Powell was among the majority that voted 5-4 not to send that back to the commission. On Wednesday, however, she said she'd been struggling with her decision.
"I want to make sure everyone is heard, and I don't want to see this fail for something very petty," she said.
That led to a 5-4 reversal vote, with councilmen Rich Dunne and Toby Shaw, Councilwoman Rose Martinez and Mayor David Kaptain also in the majority.
Business owners in the Fox Bluff Corporate Center who oppose the dispensary at that location say the planning and zoning commission denied them due process when the commission didn't address their request for a continuance of an Aug. 4 public hearing.
They also claimed the dispensary would be less than 1,000 feet from residential areas as required by city ordinance. Community development director Marc Mylott said Salveo presented an amended zoning application that addresses this point.
The council's decision would "cripple" efforts to secure one of two state licenses for dispensaries in Kane County, Salveo CEO Alex R. Thiersch said. Applications are due to the state by Sept. 22.
"This is a very, very, very competitive process," he said. "It is absolutely vital that our application contain full zoning approval. Even a couple weeks' delay would be very detrimental to us."
While zoning approval is not required to submit a dispensary application to the state, having that approval -- all other factors being equal -- could be the determining factor in securing a license, Thiersch said.
The planning and zoning commission will continue the public hearing at its Oct. 6 meeting, after the required 15-day advance public notice, Mylott said.
The Elgin City Council could vote on the issue as early as Oct. 8 or in a special meeting shortly after, City Manager Sean Stegall said.
Fox Bluff business owners reportedly decided earlier on Wednesday to file a lawsuit against the city of Elgin if the city council approved zoning for the dispensary, Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley said.
Cogley had previously recommended the council send the dispensary issue back to the commission.
Two weeks ago, after ignoring Cogley's recommendation, the council had voted to move forward with zoning for the dispensary.
If the council ends up approving the dispensary in October or later, Fox Bluff business owners could still sue the city, said Peter Bazos, Thiersch's attorney.
"This due process argument is a sham," he said.