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Chicago might allow cannabis dispensaries in more zoning districts

Published on Aug. 5, 2021 by Steven Vance

Updated on Sep. 8, 2021

Update September 8, 2021: A new version of the proposed ordinance was submitted today to the zoning committee. It removes the B3 zoning district from the proposal, keeps C1, and adds DS zoning districts. It would also allow craft growing in M2 and M3 without a special use approval as long as the property is 660 feet or further from R zoning districts. Via The Daily Line

Block Club Chicago reported earlier this week that Mayor Lightfoot introduced an ordinance to make locations in two additional zoning districts eligible to have a cannabis dispensary. Currently, cannabis dispensaries are allowed in C2, C3, DC, and DX districts, and the ordinance, O2021–3249, would add B3 and C1 districts.

In my interview with Block Club, I told reporter Justin Laurence that, based on my mapping analysis, the proposed ordinance would increase the number of eligible locations by about eight times.

We created the map above for Block Club Chicago’s article to show how much new area would be eligible to have a cannabis dispensary if Chicago City Council adopts a proposed ordinance. The blue areas are currently eligible and the purple areas are eligible in the proposal.

The analysis included commercial and mixed-use properties in the existing and proposed zones that I thought could be easily redeveloped into a dispensary. I excluded vacant and parking lots (since new construction would take too long and is expensive), commercial condos, hotels, and malls.

A cannabis dispensary on Halsted Street in Chicago’s West Loop.

For landlords and dispensary owners, this will make it easier to find a suitable property and reduce the time and money costs of going through a zoning change, all while the “special use” process remains the same.

It’s so easy to look up an address on Chicago Cityscape and, within a minute or two, determine if it’s viable to have a cannabis dispensary there. We’re the only source for maps of where other dispensaries have indicated intent to open in Chicago. Our cannabis features can also help determine if the location could have a cultivation center, processor, or infuser.

In response to this proposal, Chicago Cityscape has made 4 updates to its exclusive cannabis features.

Our Cannabis features require a Cityscape Real Estate Pro membership. Start a free, 7-day trial instantly, request a demo, or get $100 off a new annual membership (through August 30, 2021).

Here’s what we’ve improved for zoning attorneys, commercial real estate brokers, dispensary owners, and building owners:

1. The Cannabis section of Address Snapshot has been updated to highlight the current eligible districts in the normal orange and the additional zoning districts in yellow. See the screenshot below; there are currently very few eligible zoning districts in nearly every part of Chicago, but a lot of proposed additional zoning districts.

Address Snapshot’s Cannabis map, specific to any address in Chicago that you look up, has been redesigned and shows the proposed additional zoning districts.

The same map still shows the locations of schools and other cannabis businesses. In Chicago, it also shows the location of dispensaries where business owners have filed “intent”.

2. We added Restricted Cannabis Zones, so that when you look up an address in an RCZ you will be alerted to that. There are currently only two election precincts where this is effective: 2-42 and 13–13.

The screenshot shows a warning that this Address Snapshot is within a Restricted Cannabis Zone.

3. Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance would also eliminate the seven cannabis districts in the city — which were intended to force the dispersion of dispensaries — and modify the boundary of the downtown exclusion area.

We have added a second downtown exclusion area to the maps so that you can see how the ordinance would affect site selection. Turn on the “Cannabis districts” layer to see the extant and proposed exclusion areas.

4. Locate viable properties by using Property Finder, which has two filters to quickly select all commercial and mixed-use properties in a given area that are in the right zoning districts.

Choose any Place Snapshot — like the Logan Square or Woodlawn community areas and click on the “Property Finder” button. Then set the Property Classes and Chicago zoning filters to the appropriate “cannabis” options.

Chicago might allow cannabis dispensaries in more zoning districts was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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