GOLD COAST — The Gold Coast weed rush could go bust before it begins.
If either of two proposed pot shops open in the tony neighborhood, it will be over the objection of the two aldermen that represent the area.
Cresco Labs and PharmaCann held dueling community meetings on at 6 p.m. Thursday, pitching their dispensary plans to hundreds of neighbors. Both companies operate in multiple states, are headquartered in Chicago and are considered major players in the industry.
But that clout doesn’t outweigh opposition from neighbors, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said.
Hopkins and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) plan to file a formal objection with the Zoning Board of Appeals opposing Cresco Labs’ plan to convert a shuttered Fifth Bird Bank branch at 29 W. Division St. into a weed shop.
Hopkins will also file an objection to PharmaCann’s proposed dispensary a few blocks away at 12-14 W. Maple St. Because the locations are within 1,500 feet of one another, only one would ever be allowed to open.
Hopkins said a “strong majority” of Gold Coast neighbors are opposed to the pot shops and blasted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s cannabis zoning ordinance for not requiring all new dispensaries to go to City Council for approval, a move that curbs their aldermanic power.
“I think a lot of [the community’s opposition] has to do with existing crime,” he said. “People are not convinced a cannabis retail facility would solve the problem, they think it would make it worse.”
When neighbors don’t want something in their community, they expect their local alderman to stop it.
“…I don’t want the Mayor to take [that power] away from me and give it to a bureaucrat somewhere in the building at City Hall,” Hopkins said.
There’s a reason “you’re starting to see an increasing groundswell of