Council votes 5-3 for Bloomington’s second cannabis dispensary

Cannabis dispensary site on JC Parkway in Bloomington
Cannabis dispensary site on JC Parkway in Bloomington(City of Bloomington)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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BLOOMINGTON (25 News Now) - The Bloomington City Council has approved the city’s second cannabis dispensary for recreational use, although three of the newest council members voted no.

The council Monday night granted Project Equity’s request for a special use permit to open a dispensary at 1006 JC Parkway, close to Walmart and Blain’s Farm & Fleet on the west side.

William Connor Johnston says he and his Project Equity partners joke “that this is Boomington” because of the city’s economic growth.

“This city is really taking off,” said Johnston.

“We’re excited to find a vacant multi-unit retail building on the west side of the city that we can help reinvigorate,” Johnston said.

Cannabis dispensary site on JC Parkway in Bloomington
Cannabis dispensary site on JC Parkway in Bloomington(City of Bloomington)

However, Ward 1 Alderman Grant Walch, who voted no, has safety concerns because he envisions customers walking back-and-forth across the West Market Street bridge over Interstate 55-74.

“I think we’re going to see an increase in foot traffic on a very busy highway,” said Walch.

Council members Nick Becker from Ward 5 and Sheila Montney from Ward 3 also voted no.

“Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s good for the community in the long-term,” said Becker.

Montney noted pro-cannabis council candidates in the last election were defeated. She wanted more information about what she said is a lack of technology in developing field sobriety tests for drivers under the influence of marijuana.

Ward Alderman Tom Crumpler, who voted with the majority, said he trusts the judgment of the city’s zoning board of appeals, which voted 5-0 favoring the special use.

“Approving the special use permit will benefit the community financially through retail sales, the accompanying taxes, as well as providing 20 jobs for the local economy,” said Crumpler.

Bloomington’s other recreational cannabis dispensary is called Beyond/Hello at 1515 North Veterans Parkway. The city’s code calls for no more cannabis dispensaries in Bloomington.

Beyond/Hello operates a cannabis dispensary in north Normal, located at 501 Northtown Road.

Council approves union contract with public safety dispatchers

Also, Monday night, the city council ratified a three year contract with the union representing public safety dispatchers, formerly known as telecommunicators.

They’ll receive 3.5% raises in each of the three years. Cost to taxpayers over the life of the agreement is almost $130,000.

The city is also shortening the time it takes for dispatchers to received pay raises based on longevity.

City Manager Tim Gleason described the dispatchers as a dedicated, and hard-working group. The council unanimously approved the contract.

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