Chicago City Council Asserts Authority Over Downtown Dispensary Site Decisions, Sidelines Zoning Board – Hoodline

In an assertive shift of regulatory clout, Chicago City Council has voted to place downtown dispensary site decisions firmly in the hands of local aldermen, a move deftly sidelining the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in the process. As CBS Chicago reports, the newly minted ordinance demands that cannabis shops seeking to set up within the downtown boundaries— flanked by Lake Michigan, Division Street, Halsted Street and Roosevelt Road— must now seek the nod from City Council over the previously empowered Zoning Board of Appeals.

Essentially a power transfer, the measure, sponsored by Ald. Bill Conway of the 34th Ward, posits that downtown aldermen wield superior knowledge of their turf compared to the zoning board, which translates, according to proponents of the ordinance, into streamlined and potentially cheaper processes for opening marijuana dispensaries downtown. As reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, this ordinance also slices through a prior restraint that kept dispensaries at least 500 feet from schools, although Conway has noted the downtown area’s unique blend of educational institutions mingling with office buildings negates the need for such buffers.

Aldermen like Brendan Reilly of the 42nd have voiced frustration over what they deem as previous zoning board missteps, with Reilly asserting,

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