Arlington Heights trustees open to additional pot shops in town
Arlington Heights trustees said Monday that not only should the lone recreational marijuana dispensary in the village be able to continue its business permanently, but other pot shops should be allowed in town.
Six trustees present for the village board meeting Monday night supported the continuation of recreational marijuana sales at Verilife, 1816 S. Arlington Heights Road, amid the forthcoming expiration of a village-imposed pilot program. The board approved an 18-month pilot for recreational sales there in August 2020 and recently extended it through March.
Most board members also said they're OK with allowing more dispensaries in town, though some said there should be a cap of two or three and the stores shouldn't be allowed in certain areas like the downtown or within 1,000 feet of schools and parks.
The village staff also presented a potential framework that could limit dispensaries to designated zones: one south of Central Road, one between Central and Hintz roads, and one north of Hintz Road. But some trustees said delineating specific zones wasn't as important as imposing a cap villagewide.
The discussion comes as the village staff prepares to craft an ordinance for the board's approval in March.
"There are tax dollars being spent on this right now that are leaving Arlington Heights," Trustee Mary Beth Canty said. "It's not just that other towns are picking up (taxes) -- they are taking away from our community, and I would like us to make sure we are keeping our tax dollars here in our community for the benefit of the residents of Arlington Heights."
While unable under state law to provide individual sales figures for the Verilife store, Village Manager Randy Recklaus did say the village is receiving tax revenue close to the estimate he had given in 2019 of between $400,000 and $500,000. That's comparable to a big-box store, he said.
Recklaus said there's been no increase in police activity since Verilife was allowed to expand its sales beyond medical marijuana, and there's been no reported parking issues after three parking studies were conducted.
Mayor Tom Hayes, who was the lone "no" vote when the board overturned its ban on recreational pot sales in July 2020, said Monday he would remain "out-of-step Charlie."
"I guess I just don't understand why one of these recreational sales facilities would not be OK in the downtown area for whatever reasons, but is OK along Rand Road or other places in the village," Hayes said. "To me, that seems inconsistent."
Hayes said it's an image concern for Arlington Heights no matter where a dispensary is, but Trustees Robin LaBedz and John Scaletta said there would be parking issues downtown due to the come-and-go traffic.
"Without a drive-through, it's the closest to a drive-through fast food restaurant that you can get," Scaletta said.