Normal Town Council rejects plans for cannabis dispensary, backs annexation for new housing

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NORMAL (25 News Now) - Faced with community opposition during an election year, the Normal Town Council overwhelmingly voted down plans to convert a restaurant into the town’s second cannabis dispensary for recreational use.

Also Monday night, the council approved an annexation agreement west of town that leaders hope will meet increasing needs for new housing in Bloomington-Normal.

Only Councilwoman Chemberly Harris voted for the special use permit for High Haven to replace Mandarin Carden Restaurant on Mall Drive near College Avenue and Veterans Parkway, one of Bloomington-Normal’s busiest intersections, and only about a half-mile away from Bloomington’s only dispensary, Beyond Hello at 1515 North Veterans Parkway.

Nine people opposing the dispensary spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, including a woman who said she was voted “Reefer Queen” in high school during the 1970s and claims to have been sober for 33 years.

Another opponent said the location was perfect from a business standpoint to attract literally thousands of Illinois State University students.

Councilwoman Harris explained why she supported the dispensary.

“How do we truly legislate morality? It’s difficult because everybody has a different perspective because we come from different backgrounds and different perspectives,” said Harris.

Harris is not facing reelection this year. Council members Kathleen Lorenz, Karyn Smith and Stan Nord are all on the April ballot and voted against the proposal.

Also voting with the majority were Scott Preston, Kevin McCarthy and Mayor Chris Koos.

Council to expand Normal’s boundaries for west side housing development

In other business, the council voted unanimously Monday night to annex about 72 acres of farmland for the Infiniti Pointe Subdivision, which community leaders hope will help solve Bloomington-Normal’s housing shortage.

Infinity Pointe will be at the northwest corner of Parkside Road and West Hovey Avenue, adding approximately 400 new units with a mixture of single-family and medium-density multifamily homes.

Infiniti Pointe Subdivision at the northwest corner of Parkside Road and West Hovey Avenue
Infiniti Pointe Subdivision at the northwest corner of Parkside Road and West Hovey Avenue(Town of Normal)

The annexation agreement includes developers providing electric vehicle charging stations for each multifamily building, building a multiuse trail along Parkside and Hovey, and installing a wet-bottomed detention basin where residents can go fishing.

Development fees will also be paid to the town as part of the annexation agreement.