Medical marijuana dispensaries in Chicago would no longer be required to have a security guard present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, under a technical amendment the City Council’s Zoning Committee approved.

Members (10/17): Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman Cappleman (46), Ed Burke (14), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44), Ameya Pawar (47).

The committee advanced the amendment sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke (14) and Willie Cochran (20) despite objections from Ald. Tom Tunney (44), the sole “no” vote in committee. He was banking on an overnight security guard at a recently approved dispensary in his Lakeview ward, and said it was too early in the game to start changing the rules.

“I have spent a lot of time on this issue with my community,” Ald. Tunney told his colleagues that having perimeter security at the dispensary near Wrigley Field was a critical issue for his residents and one of the main reasons he was able to get their support.

“So I would be a little bit reluctant to at this early point, to start changing the rules when these things haven’t really been up in operation,” he added.

Ald. Burke admitted to his colleagues that the original provision he championed through the council in 2014, which required a licensed security guard present at all times, was premature, saying those restrictions were put in place at a time when the “medical marijuana issue was bubbling to the surface.”

“The industry, as you might expect, has not been as successful as originally anticipated, and this would hopefully reduce some of the burden on the operators without interfering with what our intent originally was,” which was to have security, Burke said.

Tom Murphy, an attorney who worked with state lawmakers to get the medical cannabis pilot program through the state legislature, agreed. He said having a security guard present at all times is counterintuitive.

In order to even be considered for a license, Murphy said, operators had to agree to install perimeter alarms, failure notification systems, duress panic and holdup alarms, and video surveillance, including 24-hour recordings. Several operators went beyond those requirements by adding motion detectors, armored doors and vaults, and other technical surveillance equipment, he said.

“There’s concern that having [a security guard] locked in the premise once the premise is closed to the public, defeats the purpose of the high tech equipment, because the alarms would have to be turned off with someone moving around,” Murphy explained.

Burke, who had walked into the chambers mid-meeting to request that his ordinance be heard out of the regular order of business, left before the vote. “[The] lawyers for the industry can lobby anyone that doesn’t have their mind made up,” he said before walking out.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42), who multiple times during the meeting claimed that the pilot program was designed to fail because of all the “ridiculous zoning provisions”, applauded the changes, saying,“I think this is appropriate, it will remove one more regulatory burden.”

The item was approved by voice vote, as were the following items:

  • 3428-30 N. Elston Ave. (33rd Ward) – Ald. Deb Mell (33) got approval to downzone what she called, “an illegal body shop” at this location. Mell said she filed the application to rezone the property from a community shopping district (B3-2) to a residential, two-flat, townhouse district (RT3.5) after “getting a lot of complaints” from the community. (O2015-8546)

  • 1244 W. Race Ave. (1st Ward) – The applicant Scott Kramer sought and got approval to rezone this property from a residential single-unit detached house district (RS3) to a multi-unit district (RM-5). According to his attorney, Thomas Moore, the zoning change was needed to “build anything on this [site].” Kramer wants to build a new 3-story, one family residential building with an attached two car garage. (O2015-8473)

  • 1427 W Grand Ave; 1426 W. Ferdinand Ave. (1st Ward) – The applicant,EZMB, LLC, got approval to rezone the property from a limited manufacturing, business park district (M1-2) to a neighborhood mixed-use district to build a four-story buildings with four residential units and four parking spaces. (O2015-8488)

  • 1331-41 W. Fullerton Ave. (2nd Ward)  – This is a commercial strip mall that has been in operation for the past 30 years, but, according to the applicant’s attorney,Tom Pikarski, a portion of the mall is zoned for residential use (RT4). Since commercial use is not allowed in an RT4 district, the property manager has had a hard time obtaining business licenses, Pikarski added, saying, “this will help to rectify an anomalous situation.” The only question on this application came from Ald. Brendan Reilly (42), who asked when the original residential zoning was put in place and how big of a portion of the mall is nonconforming. Pikarski wasn’t sure about the date, but said the commercial building on site has been there for 40 years. (O2015-8487)

  • 5436-38 South Harper Ave. (5th Ward) – This is a five-unit residential building that was originally created as a six-unit building when two of the units were combined. The applicant and building owner, Jerome Ettinger, sought a rezone to return the building to its original six units. “This is a project that will provide additional housing to the community,” Ettinger’s attorney, Tom Pikarski, told the committee. No questions were asked, and the zoning change was approved. (02015-8483)

  • 816-36 W. 38th Street/ 3755-3769 S. Lituanica Ave. (11th Ward) – This approved zoning change would help facilitate part of Lexington Homes’ proposed townhome community near Donovan Park in Bridgeport. The developer’s attorney, Barry Ash, said there’s currently a vacant building and lot on the land, which they plan to demolish to build eight-single family townhomes, each on a 26-foot wide lot with a two-car garage. Ash told the committee that local residents voiced support for the application at a recent community meeting, but Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11) can’t approve the rezone, “because of the conflict that he has with the owner.” Thompson is not on the zoning committee, as Chairman Solis pointed out, but he will abstain from voting when it is brought up to the full council. Their request down zones the property from a manufacturing district (M1-2) to a residential district (RM4.5). (O2015-8480) The other Lexington Homes’ application, a request to rezone an adjacent parcel of land to build 21 townhomes, was deferred in committee. Ald. Thompson made a last minute request to defer when the item was brought up for consideration.

  • 1546-1558 W. 35th St./3449-3459 S. Ashland Ave. (12th Ward) – AttorneyRichard Toth with Daley and Georges told the committee that building was once home to a currency exchange business that had a grandfathered business license to operate in a residential zoned building. But since that business finished up its lease, the property owner, Daniel Kravitz, wants to bring the property up to conformity to allow for new commercial uses. Other than some rehabilitation work on the inside, no substantial changes will be made to the 3,000-square-foot building and 29 parking spaces will be added, he said. Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) said the number of parking spaces was unusually high for such a small building and asked what the planned use will be. Toth said Kravitz owns a line of consumer loan businesses and plans to add one there. There’s also a t-shirt making business renting out part of the building, he added. Local Ald. George Cardenas (12) provided a letter of support, but did not testify. The committee approved the rezone to a neighborhood commercial district (C1-1). (O2015-8478)

  • 3914-3936 W. 111th St./ 11041-11059 S. Harding Ave. (19th Ward) – The applicant, 111th St. Storage LLC, sought and got approval to rezone a vacant one story building to build a two-story self storage facility. Ald. Matt O’Shea (19) said this is an $8 million investment in his community that will, “get rid of an eyesore.”

  • 2332-2344 S. Princeton Ave; 301-307 W. 23rd Pl. (25th Ward) – The applicant,Shi Tan Zheng, got approval to rezone the subject property in order to build a 45,000 square-foot building that will include 12-office units and 24-residential units. According the applicant’s attorney, Mara Georges, two of those units will be affordable, as is required by the city’s zoning code. The project is in Chairman Solis’ ward, and he said there was “overwhelming” community support. (02015-8479)

  • 2744 N. Southport Ave. (32nd Ward) – The committee approved Virage LLC’sapplication to downzone the subject property from a manufacturing district (M2-2) to a residential district (RT4). The zoning change was needed in order to demolish the existing building and build a new three-story, three-dwelling unit residential building. Plans include three parking spaces and no commercial uses.  (O2015-8474)

  • 2611 N. Western Ave.; 2646 N. Jones St. (32nd Ward) – Red Cedar Partnersgot approval from the Zoning Committee to rezone a vacant lot so they can build an approximately 11,000-square-foot, two-story day care center with a rooftop playground and 8 parking spaces. The developers sought a downzone from a limited manufacturing district (M1-2) to a neighborhood commercial district (C1-3). (O2015-8477)

  • 1023 W. Irving Park Road (46th Ward) –  The committee approved a zoning request to facilitate construction of a new four-story, five-unit residential building with five parking spaces. The application was filed by an LLC, and one of its members, Dan Popovich, was present but did not testify. His lawyer, Mark Kupiec, who spoke on his behalf said no commercial space is planned for the site, and the developer plans to demolish the existing building at the subject site. Ald. Cappleman said the community supports the project. (O2015-8475)

  • 1465 W. Balmoral Ave (48th Ward) – The applicant, Shawn Joyce, got approval to slightly modify the zoning for the two-flat he owns on the site, so he can turn the second floor unit into a vacation rental. Dan Luna, Ald. Harry Osterman’schief of staff, testified in favor of the project, noting the local community and chamber of commerce support the plan. (O2015-8485)

  • 6805 N. Greenview Ave – (49th Ward) – The Greenview Building Corporation, which operates the co-op building at the subject site, got approval from the Committee to modestly rezone the building, so they can continue using the existing closed porches as living space. According to the applicant’s attorney,Tyler Manic, the rezone was needed to increase the floor area ratio (FAR) and clean up a legal issue. The porches are about 40 years old, the building owner estimated, and the building was constructed a hundred years ago, Manic said.

  • 2614-16 N. Milwaukee Ave – (35th Ward) – The Committee approved Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s application 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). According to Rodrigo Anzures, a staff representative for the alderman, the downzone was needed to “align the street with its land use planning policy.”

Deferred Items (in agenda order):

  • 3133-3137 N. Washtenaw Ave. (33rd Ward) – Testifying that “some issues came up”, Ald. Deb Mell (33) asked the committee to defer an application she filed to rezone a block in Avondale from a limited manufacturing district (M1-2) to a residential, two-flat, townhouse district (RT3.5). (O2015-8544)

  • 2430 W Cortez St. (1st Ward)  – James Noonan’s application to rezone the property from a residential two-flat (RT4) to a residential multi-unit district (RM4.5), so it can be used as a three-unit residential building was deferred at the start of the meeting at the request of local Ald. Joe Moreno (1). (02015-8484)

  • 3401-3453 S Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and 400-506 East 35th St. (4th Ward) – The applicant, Lake Meadows Associates, has yet to go before the Plan Commission to get approval to amend an existing Planned Development (No. 1169). They need the amendment in order to build two seven-story residential towers with commercial retail and hotel space. (02015-8489)

  • 720 E. 111th Street – (9th Ward). The applicant, North Pullman 111th Inc., has yet to go before the Plan Commission (same reason as above). The amended PD would facilitate a massive redevelopment plan for the Historic Pullman District, which calls for a 10,000-square-foot shopping mall and multiple commercial buildings totaling 112,000-square feet.  (O2015-8496)

  • 3607-3615 S. Morgan St. – (11th Ward) – This is one of two zoning applications Lexington Homes filed with the city to facilitate construction of their proposed townhome community near Donovan Park. As stated above, Ald. Thompson requested it be deferred. (O2015-8481)

  • 2913-15 South Loomis St. – (11th Ward) – Deferred at the request of the applicant’s attorney, Tom Pikarski. (O2015-8482)

  • 2833-2927 W. 47th St./4701-33 S. Richmond Ave. (14th Ward) – Noble Network of Charter Schools’ zoning application 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. (O2015-8498)

  • 1801-1853 W Jackson Blvd (27th Ward) – This is the Blackhawks’ application. It will be heard by the Plan Commission today. (O2015-8468)

  • 301-339 S. Damen Ave; 1853-1959 W. Jackson Blvd; 1840-1958 W. Van Buren St. (27th Ward) – This is Rush University’s application. It will be heard by the Plan Commission today. (O2015-8469).

  • 820-850 W. Lake St. 200-208 N. Green St; 201-209 N. Green St (27th Ward) –  Another PD application from 200 Green Developer, LLC that can’t advance to Council until it gets approval from the Plan Commission.

  • 1342 W Belmont Ave. (44th Ward) – Ald. Tom Tunney (44) asked the committee to defer this application filed by Hibernian Development. They sought a minor zoning change to add three stories to the existing building, so they could add six more residential units. (O2015-8472)

  • 5653 N. Northwest Hwy (45th Ward) – This application needs PC approval, too. (02015-8486)

  • 2134-46 S Ashland Ave; 1601-27 W 21st Place (25th Ward) – Chairman Solis deferred this application (he is the sponsor). The application he filed would upzone the property from a neighborhood commercial district (C1-2) to a limited manufacturing district (M1-1).