Harvest church parking lot now off limits for Rolling Meadows pot shop

Barely a week after a Rolling Meadows medical marijuana dispensary got city approval for recreational sales, a handshake agreement for overflow parking with its neighbor Harvest Bible Chapel appears to be void.

Nature's Care on Wednesday told customers through its Facebook page not to park across from its 975 Rohlwing Road store in the megachurch's parking lot, and that violators may be towed.

In a Dec. 5 story about the city council's approval for recreational sales at Nature's Care starting Jan. 1, the Daily Herald reported that Nature's Care has 17 spaces of its own but also has agreements for overflow parking with neighbors, including Harvest.

That was based on testimony from Charles Amadin, Nature's Care's Illinois market general manager, at a Nov. 5 city planning and zoning commission meeting, and what City Manager Barry Krumstok told aldermen during a Nov. 19 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

But Talbott Behnken, superintendent of Harvest Christian Academy and a member of the church's recently reconstructed leadership team, wrote in a Dec. 7 email that no agreement - handshake or otherwise - existed.

In a subsequent email, he noted the church's significant staff turnover in recent months and that none of the current church leaders or elders were aware of any agreement with Nature's Care.

It's unknown who shook hands after the medical marijuana dispensary opened in 2015, as neither organization has the same top brass.

Harvest's founding pastor, the Rev. James MacDonald, was ousted in February, and other top leaders followed. Jake Coward is no longer running Illinois operations for Acreage Holdings, the marijuana dispensary's parent company.

Officials from the New York-based corporate offices of Acreage still insisted on Monday that a handshake arrangement remained in place.

But two days later, Nature's Care on Facebook told patrons the church's expansive parking lot is off limits. Beyond parking in front of the dispensary, overflow is available in the back of the building, officials said.

"The church has been a great neighbor, and we are very appreciative of that," Amadin said in a statement late Thursday afternoon. "In the short term, our Nature's Care dispensary has enough dedicated parking to accommodate our customers. However, as we prepare for recreational sales, we are preparing an alternative solution. We will update our customers on our plan shortly."

Representatives of Harvest and the city didn't provide additional comment Thursday.

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