Pot shop sales officially legalized in Arlington Heights
Nearly two years into a pilot program allowing recreational marijuana sales at a dispensary, Arlington Heights trustees on Monday made the practice permanently legal and opened the door to allow two more potential pot shops in town.
But final approval of ordinances sanctioning adult use cannabis sales within the village's B-2 and B-3 commercial business zoning districts didn't come until trustees narrowed the precise geographic locations where new dispensaries would be permitted, prompted by concerns of Trustee John Scaletta. He said a draft ordinance prepared by the village staff following the board's last discussion in February still left open the door to having a dispensary on a main road like Northwest Highway but adjacent to homes on a side street.
"I'm just concerned that we're going to end up providing opportunity to have regret of trying to provide additional sales tax revenue to reduce our property taxes, but (with) the unforeseen consequences on a residential neighborhood. ... There's more downside for a neighborhood than there is upside for the village," Scaletta said of the original draft.
So Scaletta proposed three designated zones where dispensaries would be allowed: one south of White Oak Street in Arlington Heights (encompassing the current location of Verilife, 1816 S. Arlington Heights Road), one north of Oakton Street and south of Hintz Road, and one north of Hintz Road to the Lake-Cook Road border.
No dispensaries are allowed between Oakton and White Oak -- which includes the Northwest Highway corridor and downtown -- but that area would have been open to the shops under the initial draft ordinance.
Seven trustees agreed to those changes made on the floor Monday night, some saying that they could always change the parameters again should a prospective business forward a proposal, or pending the proposed Chicago Bears redevelopment at Arlington Park, which is bordered on one side by Northwest Highway.
Three of those trustees, Mary Beth Canty, Nicolle Grasse and Rich Baldino, favored the original staff proposal, but that measure didn't get enough support from the rest of the board.
Mayor Tom Hayes, as in previous votes on recreational marijuana and extensions to the Verilife pilot program, remained the lone "no" vote in the end.
"If you're going to allow this, you gotta take the bad with the good," Hayes said. "Obviously, some people think the money is worth the benefit, but when you're allowing these types of facilities that are regulated by the state, by others, you're going to have to live with the negative consequences."
While village officials have said they can't provide precise sales figures for the 4,800-square-foot Verilife store under state law, they said the village is receiving sales tax revenue close to earlier estimates of $400,000 to $500,000. That's comparable to a big-box store of at least 100,000 square feet, officials said.
"It's amazing to me that that's the tax generation that we get to enjoy from something so small compared to something so big on equal terms," said Trustee Jim Tinaglia.