Buffalo Grove panel deadlocks on proposed recreational pot business

A proposed recreational marijuana dispensary in Buffalo Grove ran into a sudden detour Wednesday on the road to village board approval. The village's planning and zoning commission withheld its recommendation for PDI Medical, which wants to move out of its medical dispensary at 1623 Barclay Blvd. and open a combination medical and recreational business between a Starbucks and T-Mobile store in the Shops of Buffalo Grove, 830-840 N. Milwaukee Ave. Commissioners ended in a 4-4 deadlock over whether to recommend the plan to the village board, which has final say over the proposal. At issue was a possible conflict with the village's zoning ordinance. That conflict stems from the presence of Attention to Wellness, which provides addiction treatment and other services at 1020 Milwaukee Ave. That's within 1,000 feet of the proposed PDI Medical site, and village code bans marijuana businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a treatment center.

However, Attention to Wellness is not in Buffalo Grove, but an unincorporated area just outside the village border, sparking a debate Wednesday over whether the restriction should apply.

Supporters of the PDI plan said the 1,000-foot restriction was created to keep pot stores away from OMNI Youth Services, which primarily provides drug counseling and other services for troubled teens. Dan Shapiro, an attorney representing PDI, said comparing OMNI to Attention to Wellness is "apples and oranges."

But Attention to Wellness operator Dennis Lubchenko raised concerns.

"Many of my clients go through the parking lot. They do stop at Starbucks. I am not sure how they will be able to respond to being right in front of a dispensary," he said.

Jamie Epstein, executive director of the Stand Strong Coalition, which is dedicated to preventing underage drinking and drug use among the youth in the Stevenson High School community, said Lubchenko's is one of the few private practices that specializes in marijuana use disorder in the area.

"It is the first referral of my colleague at Stevenson High School," she said. "Lake County probation refers to Dennis."

Among the commissioners voting against PDI was Zill Khan.

"We all know that Starbucks and T-Mobile is a destination for the teenagers, and they will be in and out all the time," Khan said.

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