Evergreen Park Sets Public Hearing For Marijuana Dispensary

EVERGREEN PARK, IL — The Village of Evergreen Park will hold a public hearing to consider a pitch for a proposed marijuana dispensary. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 15 during village trustees regular board meeting.

The 1937 Group, a minority owned business headquartered in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, has submitted an application to open a dispensary in the former Scott Credit Union at 9122 S. Kedzie Ave.

The company participates in the state’s social equity program that gives access to people and communities that have been historically impacted by arrests and imprisonment for cannabis offenses to participate in the legal cannabis industry. The group takes its name from the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that laid the foundation for federal criminalization of marijuana, fueled by widespread racial discrimination against Mexican Americans and Black Americans. The federal act was eventually repealed in 1970.

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1937 cultivates and manufactures craft vapes, pre-rolls and flower, that are sold in dispensaries throughout the Chicago area and across Illinois. Among the company’s brands is a first-of-its-kind cannabis complex in Tilton, IL – Parkway Dispensary and Molly’s Joint – that offers a dispensary, consumption lounge, gaming lounge and snackbar.

The proposed dispensary in Evergreen Park is part of the 1937 Group’s expansion plan to open six dispensaries in the Chicago area, which also includes Fox Lake, Forest Park, Brookfield, Woodridge and Glenwood within the first half of 2024.

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Last month, village trustees unanimously approved a zoning ordinance change allowing for a dispensary to be located between 91st to 94th Street. A cannabis dispensary is permitted as a special use in certain areas of the village zoned as “C” or commercial.

“This industry is highly regulated by the state,” Mayor Kelly Burke said. “There are a lot of regulatory hoops for dispensary owners to jump through.”

The 1937 Group plans to buy the Scott Credit Union building at 9122 S. Kedzine, contingent on approval for a special use permit by the Evergreen Park Village Board. The proposed site has 13 parking spaces immediately south of the building. The company has agreed to add more parking on an overgrown lot on the north side of the old credit union. Vehicles would enter and exit the dispensary on Kedzie Avenue.

“The point of the hearing is to get [the 1937 Group’s] proposal and vetting by the board,” Burke told Patch. “We’ll see what the presentation is about.”

Residents and businesses within 200 feet of the proposed site received letters last month from the village notifying them of the public hearing for the proposed dispensary in the Kedzie Avenue business corridor. The plan has already drawn blowback from homeowners directly behind the building separated by an alley.

“It was shocking to me when the letter came, you never know what’s going on,” Fatima Patino told Patch, who lives directly behind the proposed dispensary. “Being 19 feet away makes me nervous for my safety and my children’s safety.

Patino is concerned that the dispensary will become a nuisance to the neighborhood and interfere with the enjoyment of her backyard, where she gardens and entertains family and friends at barbecues.

“I don’t want it behind my home,” Patino said. “I understand there are rules, but things get out of hand.”

Patino has started a petition to stop the dispensary from moving in behind her house and to make the village board aware of those residents opposed to having a dispensary in Evergreen Park.

“I’m seeing the village is strict with certain policies, but this is the wrong area and location for it,” Patino said. “I don’t want to see my property values decrease.”

Cannabis dispensaries are becoming as common as liquor stores, with shops popping up in Worth, Justice, Chicago Ridge, Tinley Park, Homewood, Oak Park, Naperville and Park Ridge, to name a few.

Burke said other nearby communities – Burbank, Worth – have cannabis dispensaries located along their respective commercial corridors with residences directly behind.

“I don’t know the truth of devalued property in other towns,” the mayor said. “I’ve not heard that this is a factor or crime being an issue.”

Over in Worth, Mayor Mary Werner said they haven’t experienced any issues with the Curaleaf Dispensary (formerly Windy City Cannabis) at 114th Place and Harlem Avenue becoming a nuisance to nearby homes or criminal incidents.

“In the beginning the customers were parking on 114th Place in front of the residents’ homes,” Werner said in an email. “”We’ve had no issues since [the dispensary] expanded their parking lot. There have been no other issues.”

The mayor said it was possible there could be a vote on April 15. The board may need more information from the 1937 Group or time to consider the proposal. Residents will have the opportunity to ask company representatives questions and to make public comments.

Burke said she’s waiting to see what the 1937 Group is proposing.

“We’ll see what the applicants have to say.”

The public hearing for the cannabis dispensary will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, at Evergreen Park Village Hall, 9418 S. Kedzie Ave.

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