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Downtown Pot Sale Expansion, Police Union Contract On Tap For Last City Council Meeting Before Budget Battle

The $600 million police union contract would give cops a 20 percent raise over its eight-year life.

weed pot dispensary
Cannabis dispensaries would be allowed to open across most of Downtown under an ordinance set for consideration by the City Council during its Tuesday meeting.

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CHICAGO — The City Council is scheduled to vote during its meeting on Tuesday to loosen regulations for cannabis dispensaries and approve a $600 million, eight-year contract with the city’s rank-and-file police union, among dozens of other measures.

Tuesday is the last time the City Council is scheduled to meet before Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveils her long-awaited 2022 budget proposal next Monday. The council is scheduled to hold budget hearings to grill officials from each department between Sept. 24 and Oct. 8.

Aldermen in the council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards spent hours last week debating Lightfoot’s proposal (O2021-3249) to roll back zoning regulations on pot shops and growers before ultimately voting 14-4 to advance the measure to the full council.

The ordinance would shrink the city’s downtown cannabis “exclusion zone” to a fraction of its current size, limiting it to a sideways T-shaped area spanning Michigan Avenue between Division and 16th streets and the Grand Avenue corridor between State Street and Navy Pier.

It would also allow dispensaries and growers to open in C1 commercial and DS downtown zoning districts, where they are currently banned. It would abolish the city’s restrictive cannabis “district” and lottery system, which were designed in 2019 to force an even distribution of pot shops around the city. And it would let pot growers open businesses in M2 and M3 manufacturing zoning districts without needing permission from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals — as long as they are more than a block away from any homes.

Officials in Lightfoot’s administration have pitched the measure as a way to attract pot entrepreneurs who would otherwise flee to the suburbs. Awardees of state “social equity” licenses urged passage of the measure last week, saying that if anything, it did not go far enough. But some aldermen called on city leaders to slam the brakes on any further liberalization of pot rules until state lawmakers tighten rules around social equity licenses.

Related: Pot shop deregulation push clears committee as aldermen lash state over social equity licensing

Fraternal Order of Police contract

Also last week, the City Council Committee on Workforce Development voted unanimously to advance the tentative contract agreement reached between the city and the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. 

If given final approval on Tuesday, the contract (O2021-3449) will certify the city’s first new agreement with the union in nearly a decade, ending a years-long impasse during which officers worked without an active contract. The deal offers members an across-the-board 20 percent raise over its eight-year life, stretching back retroactively to the last contract’s expiration in July 2017.

The back pay lands city leaders with a $378 million bill they must pay immediately, clouding the city’s financial picture as Mayor Lori Lightfoot prepares to unveil her 2022 spending plan next week. Budget officials tucked away $103 million in the city’s 2021 budget for the retroactive pay, and they have said they plan to come up with the remaining money through a debt refinancing maneuver.

Related: Police contract set for committee approval boosts reform efforts but tees up budget pain

The ordinance also codifies multiple policy changes designed to lower barriers to investigating officer misconduct, like banning the destruction of disciplinary records and prohibiting officers from changing their testimony after reviewing video of an incident. Some policies remain outstanding and are still under negotiation, like whether officers should be required to disclose side jobs.

A coalition of groups including ACLU of Illinois, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights issued a statement Monday morning panning the contract proposal, saying it “fails to make many of the changes we know we need.” The groups released a 16-page analysis and summary analysis picking apart the agreement.

Related: FOP contract on glide path to approval, but some key details remain unresolved

The City Council is also set to take up all items approved by the council’s Committee on Finance on Monday, including more than $22 million in misconduct settlements and an ordinance (SO2021-2872) designed to force more transparency on banks’ home lending patterns.

Related: Misconduct settlement stalls as aldermen weigh taking lawsuit discussions behind closed doors

The council will also vote on both ordinances that cleared the Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy: an ordinance meant to crack down on restaurants’ use of single-use plastics (O2021-2869) and an ordinance (O2021-362) establishing a “native garden registry.”

Related: Crackdown on single-use plastics set for Council vote, as some alderpeople yank support for less strict ordinance

And it will vote to confirm Ald. Jason Ervin’s (28th) appointment as chair of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, a move that cleared the Committee on Committees and Rules on Monday.

Related: News in brief: Ervin picked to lead contracting oversight committee

Lightfoot had also pushed last week to advance the “Chicago Streetgang Terrorism Prevention Ordinance,” which would empower the city to sue gang members to seize their belongings. But Lightfoot abruptly pulled the ordinance from consideration, without explanation, following backlash from some aldermen and advocacy groups. 

Ordinances, contracts, appointments

The following other citywide legislation is set for consideration by the City Council on Tuesday:

O2021-2865 — An ordinance expanding the reach of the city’s Minority-Owned and Women-Owned set-aside program for city contracts, and reauthorizing the program through 2027.

Related: Extension of minority contracting program clears committee with weeks to spare before expiration

O2021-2782 — An ordinance extending the life on the city’s Veteran-owned Business Enterprise pilot program, which offers similar contract set-asides for construction owned by military veterans, through 2023.

R2021-523 — A change to the City Council Rules of Order and Procedure to permanently allow members of the public to remotely offer public comment during meetings, even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Related: City Council set to enshrine permanent virtual access for public comment

O2021-3239 — An ordinance making dozens of updates to the Chicago Building Code designed to streamline regulations for piping, ventilation, refrigeration and other practices. The ordinance is designed as an “interim measure” while the buildings department convenes an “advisory group” to craft a more permanent overhaul of building regulations, officials told aldermen last week.

O2021-3238 — An ordinance proposed by the Chicago Department of Transportation to update and tighten rules related to the city’s 24-hour 811 hotline that workers must call before digging more than six feet underground.

O2021-3227 — A more than 2,000-page concession package that will bring 81 new specialized vending machines and an automatic self-checkout “micro-mart” to O’Hare Airport. 

Related: O’Hare concession agreement clears divided committee as Latino aldermen question its ‘parity’ and ‘equity’

O2021- 3109 — An ordinance calling for the Department of Assets, Information and Services to review upgrades made to the 311 website and app in 2019.  

Related: Updating city’s 311 system could net more money for forestry, streets and sanitation: alderman

O2021-3240 — An ordinance allocating more than $3.7 million in new grant funding among multiple city departments, including $1.2 million for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events from the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venues program, and a $900,000 grant awarded by the Chicago Community for the city’s Small Business Resiliency program.

• Reappointment of Barbara T. Bowman (A2021-111), Dominique Jordan Turner (A2021-115), Lynn M. Lockwood(A2021-113), Linda Johnson Rice (A2021-114) and Ivy Walker (A2021-116) and the appointment of Michelle T. Boone (A2021-110) and Sandra M. Delgado (A2021-112)  as members of the Chicago Public Library Board.

• Reappointment of William F. Conlon(A2021-126) as chair of the Chicago Board of Ethics, and appointment of Norma Manjarrez (A2021-127) as a new member of the Board of Ethics.

Related: News in brief: Ethics board pressed on Park District scandal

• Reappointments of Laura Flores (A2021-136) and Guacolda Reyes (A2021-137) to a new four-year and five-year term, respectively, as members of the Chicago Plan Commission.

• Reappointments of Matthew W. Brewer(A2021-131), James E. Matanky (A2021-132) and Debra Parker (A2021-133) as Chicago Housing Authority commissioners. 

Related: Aldermen rail on CHA commissioners over safety, Latino representation: ‘They need to do more’

• Appointments of Modesto Tico Valle(A2021-134) and Myetie H. Hamilton(A2021-135) to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. They will replace David Hefland and Laird Koldyke on the board.  

Related: Aldermen grill prospective park district commissioners on sex abuse investigation, Amazon lockers

Zoning changes, land sales, tax incentives

The following location-specific ordinances are set for votes on Tuesday:

O2021-2130 — A zoning change for Onni Group’s multi-phased “Halsted Pointe” proposal to build 2,650 new residential units, 300 hotel rooms, commercial and retail space, 1,400 parking spaces and open space at 901 N. Halsted St. on the southern tip of Goose Island in the 27th Ward.

Related: Plan Commission unanimously approves Goose Island multi-tower, mixed-use development

O2021-2144 — Zoning approval for a proposal from Quick LLC for a two-phase development at 1120-1130 N. State St. in the 2nd Ward. The development’s first phase would add a 345-foot-tall, 304-unit residential building. The residential tower would also include 10,000 square feet of commercial space and 132 parking spaces. A second phase is set to include 21,700 square feet of commercial space.

O2020-6237 — Zoning approval for a proposal from Chicago Condo Collection (C3) to build a mixed-use residential, commercial and hotel development at 525 S. Wabash Ave. in the 42nd Ward. C3 is proposing the development to include a 24-story tower and a 36-story tower that will combine for 777 residential units, 405 hotel rooms, 41,000 square feet of amenity space and 151 parking spaces.

O2021-1954 — Zoning approval for a proposal by Jamal Properties to build a two-tower mixed-use development with 1,053 residential units and commercial space at 601 W. Monroe St. on the Near West Side in the 42nd Ward. The developer plans to build the development in two phases, beginning with a 535-foot tower with 537 residential units, 400 parking spaces and commercial space on the ground floor. A 465-foot tower with 516 residential units, 30 parking spaces and ground-floor commercial space would be built in the development’s second phase.

Related: West Loop Apartment Towers With More Than 1,000 Units Get Key City Committee Approval

SO2016-4798 — Zoning approval for a proposal from CMK Companies to build a 305-foot-tall residential building with 299 units and ground-floor commercial space at 1354-1408 S. Wabash Ave. in the 3rd Ward.

O2021-2456 — Zoning approval for a proposal from DAC Development to build a 19-story building with 288 residential units and 4,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at 1201 W. Washington Blvd. on the Near West Side in the 27th Ward. 

Related: West Loop apartment tower plan moves forward, would bring 288 units to area

O2021-2001 — Zoning approval for a proposal by Vista Property Holdings to build a 21-story, 178-unit residential building with 7,530 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 53 parking spaces at 739-755 N. Wells St. in the 2nd Ward.

O2021-3108 — Zoning approval for a proposal by Novak Construction to build a six-story mixed-use development with 209 apartments on top of about 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space at 4730 W. Irving Park Rd., where the last Sears store in Chicago closed in 2018. Three aldermen voted against the proposal in the zoning committee last week because it only includes six on-site affordable units, the legal minimum of what is required.

Related: Six Corners Sears project nears City Council approval after surviving affordable housing debate

O2021-3137 — A proposal by Timeline Theatre to redevelop a vacant building at 5035 N. Broadway in the 48th Ward into a “medium-sized entertainment venue,” including a 250-seat theater with “office and theater support space.”

Related: Six Corners Sears redevelopment, Uptown theater project among new planned developments introduced

O2021-1983 — A proposal from The Michaels Development Company and DL3 Realty to build a 60-foot mixed-use multi-family residential building at 835-61 E. 63rd St. in Woodlawn in the 20th Ward. The development would include 56 residential units, two “live/work” units, retail space and 40 parking stalls.

Related: Woodlawn Affordable Apartment Complex Can Slow Gentrification Near Obama Center, Supporters Say As Project Clears Hurdle

O2021-3193 — A proposal by Zafar Hussein to build a new 50-unit residential building at 5354 N. Sheridan Rd. in the 48th Ward.

O2021-3235 — An ordinance authorizing the sale of city-owned parcels at 210-212 S. Hoyne Ave., 2256 W. Monroe St., 2339 W. Monroe St., 2654 W. Adams St. in the 27th Ward and 3262 W. Walnut St. and 3264 W. Walnut St. in the 28th Ward. to a joint venture of Joudah Investments LLC and MKV Business Strategies LLC under the City Lots for Working Families Program. The joint venture plans to build a total eight affordable single-family homes on the properties they will purchase for $1 each.

O2021-3264 — An ordinance authorizing the sale of 35 city-owned properties and a corresponding redevelopment agreement with Keith B. Key to use multi-family program funds and tax incremental financing for a developer to build a mixed-income development at 6100-36 S. Halsted St. in the 16th Ward. The five-story building is projected to include 40 residential units “for low-income persons” and 16 market-rate residential units, according to city documents. The development and land sale were respectively approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and Community Development Commission in May. The building would also include an elevator and commercial space on the ground floor, city documents show.  

O2021-3236 — An ordinance authorizing the sale of city-owned parcels and property at 1220, 1217, 1225, 1227, 1235, 1237, 1239, 1245, 1247 and 1249 S. Troy St. in the 24th Ward to GMP Development for $1 each under the City Lots for Working Families Program. GMP plans to build an affordable two-unit home on each of the 11 parcels.

O2021-3261 — An ordinance authorizing the sale of city-owned parcels at 3347-3357 W. 55th St. in the 14th Ward to Illinois non-profit organization PODER Learning Center for rehabilitation and creation of an immigrant job training and resource center. PODER plans to rehab the existing two-story, 6,400-square-foot building on the property and add an outdoor plaza and parking for the center’s employees, city documents show.

O2021-3838 — An ordinance extending the city’s contract with the Hotel Julian to use 175 rooms as shelter for single men experiencing homelessness.

Related: Aldermen OK extending $540K-per-month agreement to use downtown hotel for homeless residents

O2021-3253 — A proposal for a Class 6(b) tax incentive for the property at 1032 W. 43rd St. in the 11th Ward. Barry Missner with The Missner Group is in the process of building a 130,614-square-foot industrial facility on the site, according to city documents. 

O2021-3260 — A proposal from Anthony Qaiyum of Merz Apothecary for a Class 6(b) tax incentive to “substantially rehabilitate” a 14,000-square-foot industrial facility at 2419 W. George St. in the 33rd Ward, according to the application. Merz Apothecary plans to use the facility for warehousing, packing, shipping, distributing and “light assembly of food and other products,” city documents show.  The longtime Chicago apothecary plans to keep its current Lincoln Avenue retail store operating with its current 32 employees.

Erin Hegarty contributed reporting.

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