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Normal Town Council discusses the rejection of possible cannabis dispensary

Written by on February 8, 2023

NORMAL, Ill.- The Normal Town Council held their first town meeting of the month on Feb. 6, 2023.

Many gathered in the city hall chambers Monday evening as a proposal to open a cannabis dispensary at the location of the Mandarin Garden Restaurant near College Avenue and Veterans Parkway was rejected 6-1, with council members citing concerns over if the future location was the best suitable place for the dispensary to open.

The decision from the council succeeded a large slew of public comments by locals both in support and opposition of the opening of the High Haven Dispensary, which included the owners of the prospective business at the meeting. The dispensary required the approval of a special-use permit issued by Normal in order to open, as discussion around special-use permits often provide the open dialogue needed that surround unique businesses or developments such as a dispensary.

While the risks and safety precautions needed for cannabis were well understood by the council, a larger concern was put forth surrounding the logistics of the neighboring area; as the store would be located near the high traffic College Hills Shopping Mall which includes various restaurants and storefronts often with many younger demographics visiting.

Council member Stan Nord explained how he did not oppose the dispensary opening up, but how the current location would be unsuitable and it would be better for the dispensary to continue searching for the specific criteria it requires. Nord also noted how the utilization of the special-use permit also provides much needed dialogue on topics such as this, which provides not only council much more time to elaborate, but allows for the public to voice their questions and concerns in a more open manner.

Mayor Chris Koos supported the growth of dispensaries to provide more secure and safe access to cannabis away from street-dealers in a time when fentanyl is the leading cause of death for adults 18-40 years old, but said that the meeting only created more questions than answers for the development and encouraged more dialogue on possible locations in the future.

Later in the meeting the council approved a site plan for the Infiniti Pointe subdivision near Parkside Road and West Hovey Avenue. The development comes during a time when the Bloomington-Normal area faces a deficit in the amount of homes available to house its population.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, a few locals shared their concerns on the density of the project and the traffic issues which it may cause, though a lawyer from the development present at the meeting refuted that the traffic concerns are unwarranted.

The council also approved of water pain replacement projects within Normal, which the projects will amount to more than $2M over the course of just under two years. The first project which will address water mains and hydrants west of Main Street will begin this June and conclude by the end of this year, while the second project would be set to begin next spring and end next fall, replacing water equipment along Grandview Drive.

Another repair project was also approved in agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to repair and upgrade surfaces connected to Veterans Parkway. The project is set to begin this summer with a budget of just under $34,000.

The town’s next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on February 20, 2023.