Naperville City Council: Residents Get Recreational Marijuana

The Naperville city council finally had the courage to make a decision on whether or not to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in Naperville and by a decision of 6 to 3, the answer for now is ‘no’; well sort of. Naperville’s 9-member brain trust (city council) is kicking the can down the road by considering whether or not to put the issue up for a non-binding referendum in spring or sometime in the future maybe, possibly, could be, etc.

‘Non-binding’ meaning the 9-member council can override whatever the 147,000 residents want. That gets us back to kicking the can down the road and that road leads to neighboring towns which could approve selling recreational marijuana before Naperville. North Aurora has already approved the opportunity.

No one has ever accused the Naperville city council of being too courageous regarding making timely decisions. In the early 1970’s Naperville city officials finally decided not allow Fox Valley Mall to be built in Naperville at the corner of Aurora Avenue and Rt. 59 because of traffic concerns. It was then built across the street at the same intersection when the City of Aurora approved the development and Aurora has been banking those sales tax dollars for the last 44 years.

All it took for the council to finally take the can-kicking action was 238 people signing-up to speak for 3-minutes each during public forum; that’s almost 12 hours of public forum talking; that’s getting into councilwoman Patty Gustin range. My first thought was they would have four people speak simultaneously with the loudest one getting heard the best. Somehow the council got through the ‘Patty Gustin Marathon’ (non-stop talking).

When the dust settled and ‘no’ to selling recreational marijuana was announced, it cleared the way for Naperville residents to purchase the item elsewhere, just not in Naperville. It was a great moment for North Aurora, and likely other nearby towns.

So while Naperville city officials continue to kick cans down roads, opportunities flow by. I don’t have a horse in the race. Three days a week I’m in favor of selling it in Naperville, three days a week I’m not, the other day of the week I need to give my head a rest.

However when I drive by Fox Valley Mall, I can’t help seeing sales-tax-revenue dollars pouring into Aurora and wondering if Naperville council members from the early 1970’s ever had the same vision.

One thing for sure, if you are a can salesman, the City of Naperville would be an outstanding prospect.

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  1. James Haselhorst

    St Charles has opted in, and that is only a 30 minute drive from downtown Naperville. Considering it takes some residents 45 minute to drive from South Naperville to North Naperville during certain times of the day that 30 minute to buy a couple of grams of Marijuana it nothing.

    The only neighbor to opt out so far is Bolingbrook. The mayor of Bolingbrook had to post on the Internet an explanation of what that means (some people were under the impression this meant no one in Bolingbrook could possess of smoke marijuana, wrong). Basically all of the arguments for opting out are really about legalization of Marijuana, which is happening state wide on January 1st and there is nothing any city can do about that (and no having only a few dispensaries will not make Pritzker’s plan fail, in most states with legal adult use only 1 in 30 cities have dispensaries).

    What few arguments that can be made about the possible impact on Naperville of having dispensaries can be refuted by studies by other professional organization (The American Academy of Pediatrics has been advocating legalization of marijuana for over 5 years now). And all of these studies, pro and con, are of questionable value to begin with since none of them are really scientific studies.

    The reality is that the companies operating these dispensaries do the same demographic studies as McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, and yes developers building shopping malls. Once they identify a target community, like Naperville, they first try to locate in the community if that fails they target the border cities of that community (like Aurora which is currently hurting for sells tax revenue).

    Remember, when the Naperville medical marijuana dispensary was in question, another company was talking to the city of Aurora about putting a dispensary in one of the empty retail store fronts along RT-59, south of the RT-59 train station (a few feet over the city border). Discussions of this high visibility location were ended when Naperville agree to a very low visibility location in our community.

    So, which will make Naperville look worse, several dispensaries scattered at high visibility locations around our borders (making us look like a bunch of self denying, hypocritical potheads) or one very low visibility dispensary in an industrial park that no visitors to our community will every see?

    And of course the sells tax revenue certainly won’t hurt the city budget (beats raising our property taxes).

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