The City Council’s Zoning Committee will take up a proposal to scale back recently beefed up security requirements the Council approved last year for medical marijuana dispensaries that operate within city limits. The ordinance sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke(14) and Willie Cochran (20) amends the provision requiring around-the-clock security personnel at dispensaries. Under the amended rules, security would only be needed during business hours as is currently the case across the state. It also slightly amends the language detailing what kind of security should be hired, from an “Illinois licensed private security contractor” to “Illinois licensed private security agency or an Illinois licensed private security contractor.”

“Given the fact that we have all of the excellent security monitoring now, [we’re] trying to reduce the cost and the overhead [for dispensary operators]. We see that as an unnecessary expense,” Ald. Cochran told Aldertrack yesterday. The changes are in response to recent concerns from some suburban dispensaries where business is slow and costs are high, prompting some of these operations to consider closing up shop, Ald. Cochran explained.

Back in December 2014, the same year the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act took effect, the City Council approved new regulations for dispensaries seeking to set up shop in Chicago. Citing more than 300 burglaries and seven robberies at 700 dispensaries in Denver, Colorado and concerns that medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensing facilities “pose serious public safety concerns”, the Council added the requirements.

The regulations, first introduced by Ald. Burke and Zoning Chairman Danny Solis(25), required around-the-clock security, mandated private security guards be present during the loading and unloading of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, and barred a dispensary from showcasing their products in a way that would be visible to the public. The ordinance before the Zoning Committee today, which is listed on thedeferred agenda, only amends the overnight security requirement. The other provisions the Council approved remain intact.

The ordinance was on the Jan. 5th agenda, but a legislative aide for the committee told Aldertrack it was held because Ald. Burke was working on a substitute. Yet, Aldertrack was notified yesterday afternoon that no substitute will be introduced and the original plan will move forward.

Many of the applications on today’s Zoning agenda, including one from the Chicago Blackhawks (#O2015-8468) and Rush University Medical Center (#O2015-8469), have yet to go before the Plan Commission and will be deferred at the start of the meeting. Rush University and the Blackhawks are both working on a large scale development plan for the old Malcolm X Community College building on the city’s Near West Side. The Blackhawks want to build a training center on part of the site. Rush University plans to expand its medical school on the other part. Both applications are scheduled to be heard by the Plan Commission at their monthly meeting this Thursday.

An application from Noble Network of Charter Schools (#O2015-8498) to build a new two-story high school and soccer field in the Brighton Park neighborhood on the city’s Southwest Side will need Plan Commission approval, too, because they’re seeking to establish a planned development prior to construction.

The same issue applies to the applicaticant behind the massive redevelopment of the Pullman District (#O2015-8496), which includes a 10,000-square-foot shopping mall and multiple commercial buildings totalling 112,000-square feet. The applicant, North Pullman 111th Inc., whose list of involved parties is pages long, would need to amend the original PD for their proposed “111th Street neighborhood retail district.”

None of these plans can advance through the City Council without prior approval from the Plan Commission.

Notable Applications Before Zoning

  • Town Homes for Bridgeport (11th Ward) Lexington Homes filed two zoning applications for their two new townhome communities being built near Donovan Park in Bridgeport. One of their planned townhome communities, Lexington Place 3, will consist of eight three- to six- bedroom homes, each with a backyard and and two-car garage. All of the roughly 3,000- to 3,600-square-foot-homes have already been sold. Sale prices started at about $525,000. The company still needs to rezone the property from a light industry district (M2-3) to a residential single-unit district (RS3). The other application seeks a similar rezone for their planned Lexington Square 3 community, which will consist of 21 similarly styled townhomes. (#O2015-8480); (#O2015-8481)

  • Proposed Mixed Use Office-Residential Building in Chinatown (25th Ward) Developers Shai Tan Zheng and Shi Cai Zheng want to build a new mixed-use building with 12 office units and 24-residential units next to Haines Elementary School at 2332-2344 S. Princeton Ave; 301-307 W. 23rd Place. According to their zoning application, the developers plan to demolish this two existing buildings on the site. The developers need to upzone the property from a residential multi-unit district (RM-5) to a neighborhood shopping district (B2-15), and their application triggers the city’s affordable housing requirements, which means they’ll have to either make 20% of their units affordable or provide an in-lieu fee to the city’s affordable housing trust fund. (#O2015-8479)

  • New Daycare Center in Logan Square/Avondale (32nd Ward) Red Cedar Partners, LLC filed an application to rezone a vacant lot at 2611 N. Western Ave to build an approximately 11,000-square-foot, two-story day-care center with a rooftop playground and 8 parking spaces. The developers need to downzone the property from a limited manufacturing district (M1-2) to a neighborhood commercial district (C1-3). (#O2015-8477)

Aldermanic Rezones

  • 3133-3137 N. Washtenaw Ave.- Ald. Deb Mell (33) filed an application to rezone a block in Avondale from a limited manufacturing district (M1-2) to a residential, two-flat, townhouse district (RT3.5). Since there are single-family homes already located on the block, it’s likely that Ald. Mell is amending the zoning designation to bring the street up to conformity. (O2015-8544)

  • 3428-30 N. Elston Ave. – Ald. Mell also filed an application to rezone an old, “one story non-fireproof public garage” according to the property details on the Cook County Assessor’s Office. The garage is next to a large residential building. Ald. Mell seeks a rezone from a community shopping district (B3-2) to a residential, two-flat, townhouse district (RT3.5). (O2015-8546)

  • 2134-46 S. Ashland Ave; 1601-27 W. 21st Place – Zoning Chairman Danny Solis wants to rezone this vacant lot across the street from Benito Juarez High School in the Pilsen Historic District. He filed an application in November to upzone the lot from a neighborhood commercial district (C1-2) to a limited manufacturing district (M1-1). The application is on the deferred agenda.

  • 2614-16 N. Milwaukee Ave – Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) filed an application in November to modestly rezone this commercial strip in Logan Square from a community shopping district (B3-3) to a less dense community shopping district (B3-2).