GOLD COAST — After a marathon public hearing, a proposed weed dispensary in the Gold Coast was rejected by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals early Saturday, the first time the panel has nixed a location.
PharmaCann wanted to open at 12-14 W. Maple St. in the affluent neighborhood, but the proposal faced opposition from a group of neighbors, nearby business owners and three local aldermen.
The board’s 2-1 vote against the plan came at 2:15 a.m. Saturday after 12 hours of debate, including from 50 public speakers. Nearly 250 people signed up to speak during the online hearing.
Following the meeting, Jeremy Unruh, co-founder and vice president for public and regulatory affairs at PharmaCann, said the company will now focus on other locations.
“We’re proud of how our team presented itself before the ZBA. While it’s disappointing to be denied our special use, the pause will give us an opportunity to reweigh some of the neighborhood issues raised by those who objected to our proposal,” he said.
A neighborhood coalition formed against the dispensary — Stop Pot at 12-14 W. Maple — said in a statement after the vote the zoning board “absolutely made the right decision.”
“The issue isn’t about marijuana. It is about the significant negative impact that the pot dispensary would’ve had on our community,” said Matthew Newberger, a spokesman for the group and president of the nearby Mariano Park Advisory Board.
The majority of the local residents who spoke at the hearing opposed the plan. Their input began at 11 p.m. after nine hours of debate between PharmaCann and an attorney for FJ Management — a formal objector to the dispensary. They sparred on everything from business and security plans to the definition of “loiterer.”
At the conclusion of the public comment period, after 1 a.m.