Elgin sued over planned medical marijuana site
An Elgin business owners group has sued the city over its approval of a medical marijuana dispensary on the southwest side of town.
The Fox Bluff Corporate Center property owners association filed the lawsuit in Kane County, naming the city, Salveo Health & Wellness of Chicago -- which wants to open the dispensary at unit 215 of 1330 Crispin Drive within the corporate center -- and Garden 6 Joint Venture, which owns the building where the dispensary would be.
Elgin's decision doesn't comply with the municipal code or state law, said attorney Charles Muscarello, who represents the Fox Bluff Center. His clients also argue that the dispensary will increase crime and traffic in the area.
"We strongly feel that the city both ignored, and then attempted to change, its rules to try to fit this in, and completely ignored the fact that the surrounding businesses had objections or concerns," Muscarello said. "It is up to the courts to try to determine what the appropriate location (for a dispensary) is at this point."
The city was served with the lawsuit Dec. 11 and intends to respond within the required 30 days, said Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley, declining further comment. The lawsuit also was filed by Harting Inc. of North America, Graziano Properties LLC and Richard Stanis.
Salveo CEO Alex R. Thiersch called the lawsuit "unconscionable" and "frivolous."
"Unfortunately there are three or four individuals who are letting their extreme personal beliefs stand in the way of our attempt to help individuals with very serious, often terminal, conditions," he said. "It's such a shame that these individuals are forcing the taxpayers of Elgin to foot the bill for their extreme beliefs."
Thiersch pointed out the state hasn't granted any dispensary licenses yet.
"Why the plaintiffs would file a suit now, when the licenses haven't even been issued, just shows the desperation and vitriol they hold towards this issue."
Mayor David Kaptain also said he was not surprised about the lawsuit. Kaptain was among a minority of city council members who in October opposed granting the zoning permit to the dispensary.
Kaptain said he voted "no" because he didn't have time to read the 500-page transcript from a planning and zoning commission meeting that took place two days before the council's vote. The commission had recommended denial.
The process was delayed after the dispensary issue was sent back for review to the commission and then fast-tracked because Thiersch argued that further delay would adversely affect his chances of getting a state license.
"In my 10 years here (on the council), there may have been one or two votes that had some urgency behind them," Kaptain said. "This one did not have to be voted on immediately. That's my opinion."
The state has received 14 applications -- including Salveo's -- for two available licenses for marijuana dispensaries in Kane County, department of public health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said. Altogether, 214 applications are pending for 60 dispensary licenses throughout the state.
"We are conducting a comprehensive review of every applicant to ensure that only the most qualified are approved for this important program and will announce recipients as soon as possible," Arnold said.