Prospect Heights aldermen Monday unanimously approved the city’s first recreational marijuana dispensary, the only one allowed under regulations they set last year.
The Zen Leaf dispensary will occupy the former First Midwest Bank building at 1434 N. Rand Road, on the city’s border with Arlington Heights.
Prior city meetings about the proposed dispensary included public comment critical of its proximity to Hersey High School to the east and Thomas Middle School to the west, as well as the example it could set for students.
But most of those critics acknowledged that the building’s distance from both schools exceeds the legally required 750 feet and that its owners appear to be taking the matter of security seriously.
Mayor Nick Helmer said the dispensary’s visibility would be the solution to rather than the cause of problems. He added that he is confident no one under the age of 21 would obtain marijuana from the business because its owners know they would have no second chances after breaking the law.
Prospect Heights’ planning and zoning board of appeals recommended approval of the dispensary late last month by a 6-1 vote.
Commissioner Janet Saewert, who cast the dissenting vote, said she agreed with those who said a location farther from the two schools would be preferable.
Anthony Marsico, vice president of retail for Zen Leaf, said there are not as many appropriate sites in Prospect Heights as one seemed to think.
Much of the city is residential, and choosing a site in a shared strip mall rather than the free-standing former First Midwest Bank building would create other issues, he added.