JEFFERSON PARK — A Jefferson Park cannabis dispensary can expand after City Council approved the change Wednesday.
The expansion for Columbia Care’s dispensary at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave. to the neighboring storefront at 4760 N. Milwaukee Ave., which received zoning approval in February, passed with a vote of 31-19 after a lengthy discussion about equity concerns from members of the Black Caucus.
The caucus has fought to delay all dispensary zoning changes and expansions until a state law is passed to allow more dispensary licenses aimed to boost minority ownership. The House approved a bill in the General Assembly that paves the way for more social equity dispensary licenses, but it still needs Senate approval.
Black Caucus Chair Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who failed in his attempt to delay all cannabis sales in Chicago in 2020 because there are no Black-owned dispensaries, asked the council to vote against the Jefferson Park expansion and wait until the state Legislature passes the law.
But ultimately members voted in favor of the expansion. It’s expected to create about $2.4 million in annual tax revenue, said Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), whose ward includes the dispensary and who has pushed for its expansion for months.
Gardiner said Columbia Care’s expansion is “a business that will bring some life to a depressed corridor in Jefferson Park.”
He agreed there needs to be more equity in the cannabis industry but said the tax revenue the expansion will provide is more important and could help avoid another uptick of property taxes for residents.
“We have a business that is willing and able to pay those taxes happily, instead of waiting and relying on residents’ backs to say, ‘Hey, it’s up to you to make up for years of reckless spending the city has made,’” Gardiner said.
While most of the Black Caucus voted against the