Crystal Lake City Council OKs 2nd pot dispensary

Dispensary allowed with special use permit

A marijuana dispensary was approved for this location in the 300 block of North Route 31 in Crystal Lake, formerly a Mexican restaurant, by the Crystal Lake City Council in a vote Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. This was the second dispensary to be given the OK from the council in less than four months.

The Crystal Lake City Council – unanimously and without comment – approved a special-use permit Tuesday that would allow a second marijuana dispensary to open.

The decision comes less than four months after the council approved the first dispensary, AmeriCanna Dream, 501 Pingree Road, a former Culver’s, and then a month later, decided to lift the limit on the number of marijuana dispensaries allowed within the city limits.

This second dispensary would be located in a former restaurant at 330 N. Route 31, Crystal Lake, that has been closed for two years. The property is two parcels that total 1.58 acres, located in a business zoning district that allows marijuana dispensaries as a special use, records show.

The location would be owned by 330N LLC, which is controlled by Crystal Lake resident Kashan Ahmad, McHenry County resident Anthony Bellino and 280E LLC, another corporation owned by Bryan and Zachary Zises, according to documents submitted to the city. The pair co-founded and own Dispensary 33.

“I’m ecstatic,” Ahmad said. “This is the second dispensary in the city of Crystal Lake. My location did not need any special variances. I met all the requirements that the city wanted.”

A marijuana dispensary was approved for this location in the 300 block of North Route 31 in Crystal Lake, formerly a Mexican restaurant, by the Crystal Lake City Council in a vote Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. This was the second dispensary to be given the OK from the council in less than four months.

Ahmad said he would open the dispensary as soon as the state gives him a license. AmeriCanna Dream also is waiting for the state to award the licenses, Community Development Director Katie Cowlin said in an email.

“They are all on temporary hold,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad had said he would renovate the interior to comply with state requirements and would also re-stripe the parking lot and install landscape to screen the business from Route 31, records show. A separate company would operate the dispensary, according to the council documents.

Zachary Zises, one of the co-founders and owners Dispensary 33, said they have been in operation for six years at other locations, which include a joint medical and recreational location in the Chicago neighborhood Andersonville and a recreational location in the West Loop.

Among the restrictions for the dispensary are that it cannot have a marijuana leaf or bud image or an electronic message center sign. No paraphernalia or similar products can be seen from outside the building.

It can be open between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It cannot sell food for consumption on the premises and no marijuana or marijuana products can be consumed on the premises, records show.

The former Culver's location at 501 Pingree Road is seen on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Crystal Lake.  The location has been proposed to become American Dream, which could become McHenry County's second marijuana dispensary.

Many customers would pre-order online and pick up and pay in the store.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted, 6-0, to recommend approval following a public hearing Jan. 19, at which the owners of the Purrfect Cat Rescue raised concerns about the restaurant becoming a dispensary, meeting minutes show.

Jim Parquette, one of the owners, said the shelter relies on volunteers, some of whom are young, around the age of 13 to 18 years old. He noted that the parking lots are shared.

The city requires a 250-foot buffer from religious establishments, schools, recovery homes, libraries, child care, parks and residentially zoned properties, a requirement this property meets. The city of Crystal Lake previously had required a buffer of 500 feet, which was decreased in the November vote that also lifted the limit on the number of dispensaries.

The state also requires a 1,500 foot spacing from another marijuana dispensary.