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Park Ridge’s first recreational marijuana dispensary received final approval from the City Council this month following a misleading mail campaign aimed at urging residents to oppose the business.
Aldermen on Feb. 7 approved a special-use permit for the opening of Ivy Hall, a dispensary proposed for 1036 Higgins Road, a former Al’s Beef restaurant.
Preliminary approval came during the council’s Jan. 18 virtual meeting. There was no public comment on the proposal.
Following the January vote, printed flyers began appearing in residential mailboxes referring to the proposed dispensary as a “marijuana mega store” and advising residents to tell their aldermen to vote against it.
The flyers included a photo of a building that is not located in Park Ridge, with a sign reading “Weed Mega Store.”
In an email to aldermen, City Manager Joe Gilmore said the flyers are an initiative by a nationwide political action committee that is opposed to marijuana businesses.
First Ward Ald. John Moran called the mailings “weak attempts at last-second fear mongering.”
“Maybe it’s the demographic I’m in, but I received more positive feedback based on the postcards received in my ward than negative feedback,” Moran said.
The city shared two transcribed voicemail messages that were received from residents objecting to the dispensary. A third resident expressed support in an email, referencing the November 2020 Park Ridge referendum on marijuana businesses, for which a majority of voters expressed support.
Mayor Marty Maloney said the only comment he received was from a person who wanted to know where exactly the “mega store” would be opening.
“When I told them the location, they were frustrated it wasn’t going to be a ‘mega store,’” Maloney said. “They kept telling me (the actual location) is too small.”
The 4,660-square-foot dispensary is anticipated to generate annual sales of $8 million to $10 million per year, with the city of Park Ridge potentially receiving $300,000 to $500,000 in local sales tax annually, Andrew Scott, an attorney representing parent company World of Weed, told the City Council in January.
Scott said the dispensary hopes to be open this summer.
The proposed business is located south and east of multi-family homes and west of an office building.
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