McKinley Park News – Zoning Board Approves McKinley Park Cannabis Dispensary

A BLOC cannabis dispensary from Justice Cannabis Co. gets OK'ed for 3455-59 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, April 22, 2023, on the tail end of a grueling all-day-and-night-long meeting, Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the application for Justice Cannabis Co. to build a BLOC-branded adult-use cannabis dispensary in the McKinley Park neighborhood at West 35th Street and South Ashland Avenue.

 


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Taft Law Partner Liz Butler, who has been helping Justice Cannabis Co. shepherd its application through the city’s approval process, said a “hearty” three-hour hearing about the dispensary application included two objectors and 11th Ward Alderwoman Nicole Lee, who asked for the case to be continued and for the board’s decision to be made at a later date.

 


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“We had a brief debate, and the board denied her request,” Butler said. “The board agreed that sufficient outreach and engagement had occurred, and all procedural requirements had been met … and declined to grant the continuance.” 

Economic Development and Investment

McKinley Park neighborhood resident George David Perez said he watched the entire zoning board meeting and has been tracking the issue of siting a local cannabis dispensary at 3455-59 S. Ashland Ave., including at the community meeting held on February 6, 2023.

“I am personally in favor of this or any other dispensary opening in this community, as well as other areas of the South and West sides of the city that have been historically ignored when it comes to development and investment,” Perez said.

Lack of Advance Notice

Perez said he thought the zoning board’s consideration of the dispensary application was “surprisingly straightforward and transparent. … Every step was explained thoroughly, and everyone that wanted a say received the opportunity to voice it.”

 


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Bridgeport neighborhood resident and former 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Froy Jimenez said he objected to the cannabis dispensary and its approval process. “This decision was not done in the best way and in best interest of our communities,” he said.

Jimenez objected to the lack of advance notice for the zoning board meeting, as well as the lack of a promised 11th Ward meeting to again consider and discuss the dispensary, he said.

Transitory Shoppers

“This big of a decision requires follow up, focus and attention,” Jimenez said.

Perez, a veteran, Illinois medical cannabis card holder and licensed dispensary agent, said his past experience working in the cannabis industry pointed to economic development opportunity for McKinley Park.

“Dispensary shoppers that did not shop in the community previously are going to stop along the way to and or from the dispensary,” Perez said. “Our community stores and restaurants will benefit from transitory shoppers.”

A Cannabis Home in McKinley Park

“This is not the only cannabis company looking at this neighborhood,” Perez said. “Infusers, growers, and transporters — they are all looking to make McKinley Park their home.”

 


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“If they do, they bring really good jobs with them,” Perez said.

Butler noted the video of the zoning board meeting should soon be available to watch on the YouTube page of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development.

 


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“I believe more people should watch these and participate because I felt very empowered by doing so,” Perez said.

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