Dispensary under construction near Willow Knolls Shopping Center

PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) — Construction of a new dispensary near the Willow Knolls Mall may be happening in the near future. But it did not happen without opposition.

Last Thursday, the Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special use ordinance for a recreational marijuana facility. This means that if it gets full approval, the city can still impose conditions on the operation, including hours of operation. The business would go to the old Applebee’s in front of Willow Knolls, opposite the War Memorial.

While the commission voted in favor of the order, it is not the final decision. If the city council also approves, the company must obtain a business license from the state before construction can begin.

“The real question will be whether the other store owners disagree with this, or if it’s just been overdone,” says District Three Councilor Tim Riggenbach.

Not all parties involved are happy with the potential new tenant. A Willow Knolls attorney, Robert Hills, spoke out against the decision, saying in a statement, “The Willow Knolls Mall is not an appropriate location for a cannabis dispensary.” When asked for further comment, he declined.

“From what we’ve seen, there are criteria that are in place, and if you tick those boxes, you qualify. So that’s kind of where we are at this point,” adds Riggenbach, who doesn’t say anything about this process, which was very different from approving the other two clinics in town. He says that since the site is in a commercial district, it seems to be in an acceptable location.

The Applebee property is independent of the mall. No other opposition was raised to the proposal.

The council is due to vote on the dispensary at its second meeting of the month, scheduled for September 27.

Fourth District Councilman Andre Allen did not respond to our request for comment. The Applebee’s is located in his neighborhood.

Edwin S. Wolfe