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Ald. Napolitano To Oppose Medical Marijuana Dispensary Near Superdawg

By Heather Cherone | December 15, 2015 6:25am
 Union Group of Illinois wants to open a dispensary in a vacant storefront at 6428-30 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Union Group of Illinois wants to open a dispensary in a vacant storefront at 6428-30 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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Union Group of Illinois

NORWOOD PARK — Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) said Monday he would oppose a proposal that would open a medical marijuana dispensary near Superdawg in Norwood Park.

The city's Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to consider the proposal from Union Group of Illinois to open a dispensary at 6428-30 N. Milwaukee Ave. at its afternoon session Friday, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

Napolitano said an "overwhelming" number of residents of the 41st Ward have told him that the location near Devon, Nagle and Milwaukee avenues is a bad fit for a dispensary and would make the already congested intersection worse, attract criminals to the area and lower the value of their homes.

Jay Vincent, a spokesman for the firm, said the alderman's decision was not a surprise. Napolitano twice asked city officials to delay their decision on the project.

"There is deep support in this community for this proposal," Vincent said. "We look forward to demonstrating that at the Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting."

Napolitano said he was particularly concerned that the proposed dispensary was across the street from Caldwell Woods, where many families picnic in the summer and sled in the winter. Educational programs also take place there.

In September, the city's zoning board rejected a permit for a dispensary near Warren Park in Rogers Park, even though city regulations did not prohibit dispensaries near parks. Napolitano said he would urge the board to follow the precedent set by that vote.

In addition, Napolitano said he was concerned that the proposed dispensary was too close to both St. Thecla School and Onahan Elementary School — even though it complies with the city's regulations for minimum distance from a school — as well as its location on Milwaukee Avenue along a bus route used daily by high school students.

Napolitano said he did not oppose medical marijuana. A dispensary approved in Jefferson Park would meet the needs of ill residents of the Far Northwest Side, the alderman said.

Curative Health has the approval of both the state and city to open a dispensary at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave., but has yet to begin remodeling the storefront.

The owners of Superdawg have welcomed the potential new neighbor, saying they support any business that would bring more people to the area.

While the zoning board frequently follows the recommendation of aldermen when deciding whether to approve or reject projects in their ward, it does not always do so.

John Davis, one of three partners in Union Group of Illinois, has said the dispensary would be a "good neighbor and a revenue generator" if approved by city officials. The dispensary would be run by Maria Kunz, who owns a home health care business in Skokie.

If approved, the dispensary would operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, and be patrolled around the clock by armed guards using a state-of-the-art camera system, officials said.

In addition to adding 21 parking spaces, Union Group plans to build a secure garage to allow marijuana to be delivered to the facility and cash removed. Otherwise, the 21,500-square-foot building — a former medical supply store — would remain unchanged, officials said.

Only members of the dispensary allowed by the state to use medical marijuana for a host of illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma would be allowed inside the facility after showing two forms of identification, officials said. Marijuana would not be permitted to be consumed at the facility or nearby, according to state law.

The dispensary would employ 10 people, and Union Group said it would donate 4 percent of its profits to "local charities and civic groups." The dispensary is expected to bring in $1.6 million in profit in its first year, which would mean $64,000 for local groups, company officials said.

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