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New Danville pharmacy/truck stop proposal wins zoning commission

THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWSGAZETT STORY BY JENNIFER BAILEY

ABOVE: Michael Mervis, left, and others (Brad Zerman, CEO of Seven Point of Illinois, back row left) listen as Laura Jaramillo speaks about a proposal for a third cannabis dispensary and other developments at Thursday’s Danville Planning meeting and Zoning Commission.

DANVILLE – A proposal for a cannabis dispensary in conjunction with a Casey’s truck stop and other possible developments received support from the Danville Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday evening.

The request for a special use permit will now go before the Danville City Council at its June 18 meeting.

However, if the City Council does not grant approval, Chicago-based MariWorks LLC and partner nuEra said they have also spoken to Tilton officials about another potential location, which would have only a pharmacy, on vacant land near the Mach 1 truck stop in Georgetown. Road off Interstate 74.

Laura Jaramillo, one of the social equity license owners for a cannabis dispensary in Vermilion County who is working with nuEra, said the second possible site is due to a tight timeline; they must tell the state by July how they will use their pharmacy license.

Tilton Mayor Billy Wear said he personally believes the village’s current pharmacy, Molly’s Joint, is sufficient for the population of 2,800 residents. He said a development group and a land broker had discussions about nuEra, but he doesn’t want the village to be a “pawn” in their game.

Wear said the village council is considering limiting dispensary licenses to one or two. The board meets on June 20.

Wear also said he doesn’t want to have a “development war” with Danville over a pharmacy, and that it “can stay in Danville.”

Jaramillo said the permit is for this part of the state and they need an approved location.

The Danville Zoning Commission voted 6-0, with one commissioner absent, to recommend the special use permit.

The MariWorks proposal focuses on what is now farmland south of I-74, and would include the development of a Casey’s truck stop and more on the site, next to the nuEra pharmacy.

A year ago, MariWorks withdrew its application to the Danville City Council for a special-use permit for a pharmacy at 500 Eastgate Drive near Danville Metal Stamping because the council, through a supermajority vote, was unlikely to overturn the zoning commission’s recommendation against the would override the law. permit.

The new request to the zoning commission asked to consider developing land south of I-74 and west of Southgate Drive so that a cannabis dispensary could be operated in the B-3 general business district, as part of a larger development.

The property, owned by the Mervis family’s Riverbend Development, fits within “the very limited area” where councilors have allowed cannabis dispensaries, Jaramillo said.

The property is part of a 27.89 hectare plot.

Two other projects proposed north of I-74 at the Lynch Road exit were voted down, one by MariWorks and another by a different group, over concerns about oversaturation. But the city council voted in December against expanding the area where cannabis dispensaries could be located in the city.

As proposed, the pharmacy would be part of a plaza with a gas station/trucks, quick-service restaurant and other industrial uses, Jaramillo said.

The undeveloped land will require a gas regulator and electricity to the site, at an estimated cost of more than $1 million, but would also have potential Ameren rebates, officials said.

If the companies share costs, the project could happen, Jaramillo and Michael Mervis said.

Mervis said Casey’s will be an attractive neighbor for a quick-service restaurant.

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. of Danville said dispensaries are safe, healthy competition is good and this site is further away from most citizens in Danville. He thinks there will be more support for this location from the municipality.

He agreed that infrastructure is one of the biggest hurdles to development and noted that the project would “give us an edge over other things.”

Williams said the city “has two great pharmacies here, and I am in favor of a third.”

Representatives from the other two pharmacies in Danville, Seven Point and Sunnyside, opposed the new plan, saying there were no firm commitments for the other businesses, just potential. They added that other cities have limited the number of dispensaries allowed within their borders, such as Naperville, which has a population of 150,000 and has capped its licenses at three. Danville currently has no cap on pharmacy licenses.

Seven Point President and CEO Brad Zerman said a third pharmacy will take away customers from the others and seriously hurt his business, which is currently losing money. Seven Point, which has been open for about six weeks, required a $7 million investment, Zerman said.

In other cases, the committee also recommended a special use permit for a vape shop. North Ridgeview LLC’s request is to operate the store in the B-2 Freeway Commercial Zoning District at 2601-2605 N. Vermilion St., in the strip mall with Mad Goat Coffee and Wingstop.