Rolling Meadows approves one recreational marijuana shop in town

  • Nature's Care, a medical marijuana dispensary at 975 Rohlwing Road in Rolling Meadows, received special use approval from the city council Tuesday to sell recreational pot starting Jan. 1. Now, the business is awaiting final approval from the state.

      Nature's Care, a medical marijuana dispensary at 975 Rohlwing Road in Rolling Meadows, received special use approval from the city council Tuesday to sell recreational pot starting Jan. 1. Now, the business is awaiting final approval from the state. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 
Posted12/5/2019 5:30 AM

Rolling Meadows aldermen will allow one business to sell recreational marijuana in the city -- the existing medical marijuana dispensary in town.

With the city council's unanimous vote Tuesday night, Acreage Holdings awaits only a state license before being able to sell marijuana to adult recreational users as early as Jan. 1 from its store at 975 Rohlwing Road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That's where the company has operated a medical dispensary, Nature's Care, since 2015.

Under the state law that legalizes the adult use of marijuana, existing medical dispensaries have first shot at expanding their facilities to include sales to recreational users.

In preparation for the rollout of recreational pot, the store is adding another four points of sale within its 1,120-square-foot retail area and beefing up security to handle increased customer traffic, according to Charles Amadin, Acreage's Illinois general manager.

Security guards will help manage parking outside the business, which could include directing patrons from neighboring lots. Nature's Care has 17 spaces of its own, but also has agreements for overflow parking with neighbors, including Harvest Bible Chapel.

Under the special use ordinance approved by aldermen, the dispensary is required to monitor the parking situation for the first four months that recreational cannabis is sold, then meet with city officials who may determine that parking upgrades are necessary.

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That could include signage, crosswalks or sidewalks, which Nature's Care would have to pay up to $25,000 to construct.

But city leaders have otherwise welcomed the expanded store with open arms, saying the company has been a responsible business partner in the community.

And as such, officials crafted local zoning rules that would make it the lone recreational pot shop within city limits, though they added that additional facilities could be approved later.

Under the new rules, cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers would be listed as special uses within the city's manufacturing zoning district.

Even before the 7-0 second reading vote Tuesday, aldermen already approved a 3% local tax on recreational marijuana sales in September that would be captured if they later decided to allow sales.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Estimates have shown the local tax could stand to generate between $100,000 and $300,000 a year for city coffers.

The pot debate was less contentious in Rolling Meadows than in other suburbs, where public comment during meetings lasted hours.

A small contingent of anti-marijuana activists wearing "Opt Out" T-shirts spoke at a Nov. 26 council meeting, while a handful of supporters came to the meeting this week. Nature's Care also had the endorsement of the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce.

During council deliberations, Aldermen Jon Bisesi and Nick Budmats suggested a two-week delay in the final vote to allow residents more time to provide feedback, though Aldermen Kevin O'Brien and Lara Sanoica said residents in their wards did weigh in on the topic.

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