Arlington Heights could ban recreational marijuana sales

  • Community members address Arlington Heights trustees on Monday about recreational pot sales.

      Community members address Arlington Heights trustees on Monday about recreational pot sales. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • In an unofficial straw poll Monday, Arlington Heights village board members said they would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana within the town's borders.

      In an unofficial straw poll Monday, Arlington Heights village board members said they would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana within the town's borders. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/29/2019 5:27 AM

Reversing an earlier preference, Arlington Heights village board members indicated Monday they will decide to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana within the town's borders, arguing a ban would preserve the village's image as a family-oriented community.

Six members of the nine-person elected panel said they would vote to outlaw pot sales, following the path of towns like Park Ridge and Long Grove that have also chosen to opt out. Others, like Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates, have decided to permit cannabis shops once the state law legalizing adult use takes effect Jan. 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While a 6-3 straw poll was taken during Arlington Heights' committee of the whole meeting Monday night, a vote on a formal ordinance is set to be taken Monday, Nov. 4.

It marked the second time Arlington Heights' elected officials talked about whether to allow recreational marijuana sales, after a majority said they were open to it during an Aug. 13 meeting. But since then, some trustees said they've changed their minds, wondering if revenue estimates of up to $500,000 a year for village coffers would be realized.

"The residents made clear our brand and reputation shouldn't be traded for revenue," Trustee John Scaletta said. "This is not the best way to increase revenue. Once we allow cannabis sales, we can't put the genie back in the bottle."

Scaletta and Bert Rosenberg were among five board members at the August discussion to express a willingness to allow marijuana sales by dispensaries.

Rosenberg, considered the board's financial guru, agreed that revenue could go to towns like nearby Buffalo Grove, but he also said there would be hidden costs to permitting sales.

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On the other side, those in favor of allowing pot businesses argued the amount of revenue, while small, was significant.

The village staff said local pot taxes would translate to a 1.5% decrease in the village's portion of a property tax bill for a resident, or about $15 a year for a $300,000 house. One marijuana shop could generate the same amount of revenue as a medium-sized car dealership, officials said.

"It's OK to have a racetrack where people gamble and come in on the train from communities all around us, and have liquor licenses up and down the streets of all our neighborhoods," said Trustee Jim Tinaglia, who voted in favor of sales with Rich Baldino and Mary Beth Canty. "And it's OK to walk across the street to Buffalo Grove ... but it's not OK to sell it and get the tax dollars in our town? I think that's crazy."

Most of those who attended the board meeting Monday night were pleased with the outcome, applauding after the vote was taken. It came after an hour and a half of public comment during which nearly three-quarters of those who spoke -- some wearing "opt out" T-shirts -- urged the board to ban sales.

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