The Zoning Board of Appeals on Friday denied a permit to the Green Gate Compassion Center to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the 50th Ward. Because of an existing vacancy on the five-member board, the vote deadlocked at 2-2, with Shelia O’Grady casting the second vote against. O’Grady was appointed to the Board in 2013, and formerly served as Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Members of the Board are appointed by the Mayor. It’s not clear how business can be conducted without a full Board. The term of the fifth member of the ZBA, Catherine Budzinski, an architect, expired in May 2015. The Mayor has not yet named a replacement.
This is a stunningly stupid decision. Although the alderman did not declare herself against the clinic at the ZBA hearing, she had voiced her opposition to it for several months. She and her supporters carried the day, despite the fact that hundreds of residents who supported the clinic signed a petition and appeared at the hearing.
It should be clear now that economic development in the 50th Ward will not occur under this alderman. A business that would have invested nearly half a million dollars in property improvements and hired residents could not open because of the alderman’s opposition.
It’s an indefensible shame.