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Smashed Door At Medical Pot Dispensary Is An 'I-Told-You-So' For Alderman

By Alex Nitkin | January 3, 2017 6:15am
 The front door was boarded at Union Group of Illinois, 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave., after being damaged early Saturday.
The front door was boarded at Union Group of Illinois, 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave., after being damaged early Saturday.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

NORWOOD PARK — Four people smashed the front door of Union Group of Illinois, 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave., in an apparent attempt to break into the city's newest cannabis dispensary Saturday morning, police said.

Surveillance footage showed the group breaking the glass door before running away, a police source told DNAinfo. The dispensary's staff called to report a break-in at 11:19 a.m. Saturday.

But Dmitrey Stebley, the dispensary's chief operator, called the incident "an act of vandalism" by a group of young men who appeared to be intoxicated just after 4 a.m. Saturday.

"This was not an attempt to break in," Stebley said. "Only the outer glass was broken."

 The security vestibule was undamaged at Union Group of Illinois, and no one stepped inside, the dispensary's operator said.
The security vestibule was undamaged at Union Group of Illinois, and no one stepped inside, the dispensary's operator said.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

The office has a locked vestibule where a security guard sits during business hours.

The footage shows one of the men picking up a "metal stick" off the street and smashing the door, without so much as stopping to look inside, Stebley said.

Still, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) saw the damage as a bitter I-told-you-so moment, after trying to prevent the shop from opening in his ward because of security concerns.

Napolitano's office conducted an automated telephone poll of his constituents, finding that 72 percent didn't want the dispensary at Devon Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue, he said.

"This is exactly what residents expected to happen," Napolitano said. "It's exactly what the neighborhood never wanted to deal with in the first place. And it could be just the beginning."

In December 2015, the City Council's Zoning Board of Appeals voted to green light the construction of the dispensary over Napolitano's objections. The alderman decried the move as political payback for his vote against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed budget.

As an added wrinkle, the Council later passed an 11th-hour ordinance lifting a requirement for the dispensary to be guarded round-the-clock, he said.

"We met with [the operators] five or six times, and they promised 24-hour security, only to have it scaled back at the last minute," Napolitano said. "It's a big joke. It gives the blatant view that no one cares what residents here want."

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