As regular readers know, the alderman was adamantly opposed to the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary at 6501 North Western Avenue. Unable to give a reason, she fumbled around for several weeks before finally claiming that her opposition was based solely on her belief that such dispensaries should not be located near parks “…where children play.”
The real reason appears to be quite different. It seems that the alderman already had other plans for the site.
Tomorrow, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m., the City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards will meet to approve a zoning change requested by the alderman for the site where the dispensary might have stood. Zoning will change from C2-2 Motor Vehicle Commercial District to RS2 Residential Single Unit (Detached House).
The zoning request was referred to the Zoning Committee on October 14, 2015. The dispensary’s application was still on appeal at that point, and the final decision not to hear the appeal was not made until December 18, 2015.
A medical marijuana dispensary that would have employed neighborhood residents, primarily veterans of the U.S. Armed Services and the disabled, was blocked by the alderman in favor of building one or more private houses that will no doubt be beyond the financial reach of most neighborhood residents.
Current ownership of the lot could not be verified because the Assessor’s Web site could not be accessed. It will be interesting to see who buys the property (now officially “Off Market,” per Loop Net), who develops it, and who buys the house(s). Lot size is reportedly 10,000 sq. ft. so it’s possible that more than one house will be built.
Whether or how the existence of private housing immediately next to Warren Park will affect future events in the park is unknown.
You can bet there’ll be donations to the right political coffers. In a ward whose alderman operates with such a complete lack of transparency, and whose behind-the-scenes maneuverings are so well-known, it’s always best to follow the money.
This farce is another example of the alderman’s version of economic development: If it works for the few and the moneyed, it’s a good thing.
Chicago Municipal Code zoning regulations can be found here.