Controversy surrounds pot dispensary opening up near Chicago school

Parents in the South loop are fighting plans to open a marijuana dispensary on the same block as a Catholic Church and school.

While the business falls just outside the 500-foot safety zone required by the city, the parents say it is still too close for comfort.

“Schools and drugs do not mix. Today it’s Old Saint Mary’s, tomorrow it could be your school,” said parent Kate Lamantia.

On Monday, it was dismissal time at Old Saint Mary’s Catholic school in the 1400 block of South Michigan as students and parents walked past an empty storefront that may soon be a recreational marijuana dispensary.

“I’m not against marijuana. I’m OK with it completely. But I just don’t think that’s the location this place should be,” said parent Sebastian Zielinski.

Parents and church leaders have collected more than 500 signatures on a petition calling on the city to reject the proposed dispensary, which is exactly 508 feet from the school’s front door. That is just eight feet outside the 500-foot school safety zone required by the city.

“They’re projecting 2,100 people coming into the neighborhood each week. There’s no parking. All of those people will be on the same sidewalk, the same block as our children,” said parent Laurie Montplaisis.

Parents are worried that pot deliveries and cash pickups will be made from an alley that runs directly behind the school.

“It’s a cash only business. And so they’re a chief target for crime,” said parent Vanessa Vergera.

The license for Michigan Avenue Dispensary Incorporated is held by a Chicago attorney who also operates a dispensary near Midway Airport. He did not return FOX 32’s calls for comment.

A spokesman for the Chicago archdiocese says they support the parents and the priest at Old Saint Mary’s in their battle against the dispensary, which will face a zoning hearing in November.