Marijuana question dominant among several Northwest suburban referendums
More than 10 months after the sale of recreational marijuana to adults will have been legal in Illinois, some Northwest suburbs will ask voters to weigh in on whether to allow the sale of marijuana in their communities.
Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect and Park Ridge will ask voters in the Nov. 3 election through nonbinding referendums whether to permit the sale of recreational pot within the regulations established by the state.
All three have been among the municipalities that chose to ban recreational marijuana dispensaries since the start of 2020.
Their common question is the dominant one in what appears to be an off-peak election for local referendums.
Nevertheless, Elk Grove Village is coming off a tumultuous winter in which a citizen-led effort for a referendum asking for term limits on village board members was ultimately ruled invalid by the Illinois Supreme Court.
This election cycle, Elk Grove Village officials are filling up the local three-question limit on the November ballot.
Alongside the recreational marijuana question, the village is asking residents if it should limit the number of video gambling locations in Elk Grove and whether it should consider charging all residents an increased rate for unlimited yard waste collection instead of issuing yard waste stickers.
Mayor Craig Johnson denied the three advisory questions were an attempt to block a citizen-led term limits referendum.
Johnson said asking advisory questions is nothing new for Elk Grove. The village polled voters last March on whether there should be neighborhood events in town.
But as they're all nonbinding questions, the village board would retain its own discretion on the three issues no matter the vote.
Johnson added the marijuana question is especially relevant to Elk Grove Village Cares, an existing village program that helps arrange treatment for those battling substance addiction.
He said the village wants to know whether residents feel the allowance of recreational marijuana sales in town is contradictory to the mission of that program.
Mount Prospect already has a medical marijuana dispensary -- New Age Care at 2015 E. Euclid Ave., whose parent company is unhappy about having to wait for the outcome of an advisory referendum for even the possibility of expanding to recreational marijuana sales.
Mark de Souza, CEO of Revolution Global, said his company has been in talks with neighboring communities, including Des Plaines, about relocating.
But even if it does remain in Mount Prospect, the dispensary likely would seek a more appropriate site for recreational marijuana sales, de Souza added.
One binding referendum in the Northwest suburbs is Elk Grove Township's question about whether its road district should be abolished, with its duties and assets to be absorbed by the township.
The practical effect of this, Township Supervisor Michael Sweeney said, is the elected office of highway commissioner would be dissolved and the road district's sole full-time employee -- who retired Friday -- wouldn't be replaced.
"Operationally, this is not going to make a great deal of difference," Sweeney said.
He emphasized the retirement of the longtime employee was not foreseen at the time the referendum question was approved.
The road district's only duties on its six miles of unincorporated roads that aren't already contracted out are snow removal and branch pickup. These are anticipated to be contracted to outside firms, Sweeney said.
The township would replace the retired road district employee's $120,000 in annual salary and benefits with a snow removal contract that might be about a quarter of that amount. But the township also may choose to pay a premium to have its roads at the top of the contractor's list, Sweeney said.
Cook County clerk's office officials said their list of local referendums for the Nov. 3 ballot is expected to be finalized later this week.