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home : news : local   April 29, 2016

7/28/2014 9:18:00 PM
Pot competitors fill seats at Peru City Council meeting

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

Competition to secure land, local special use permits and a license from the state to grow medical marijuana is reaching a fever pitch.

Four prospective cannabis growing groups attended Monday’s Peru City Council meeting. And the council agreed that, despite earlier statements, eventually they would need to endorse a company for approval by the state.

The council approved a special zoning use for Agricare LLC doing business as Agricare Labs at 22 Unytite Drive. Agricare was the first company this summer to present its plan to the council.

Two newcomers presented plans Monday.

Nassau Ventures I LLC (incorrectly listed on the council agenda as “Flower Power”) was represented by former state senator Gary Dahl and his wife, Deb; real estate developer Jon Chamlin of the greater Chicago area; Mitch Simborg, president of Simborg Development Inc., Simborg Industrial Real Estate Inc. and Simborg Commercial Real Estate LLC, Homewood; Phil Goldberg, Simborg’s corporate attorney; and Brandon Webby, cannabis consultant from Colorado.

The group, which said in a letter it wants to “demystify this burgeoning industry,” wants to build a growing plant at the northwest corner of May and Donlar roads, land owned by Gary Dahl.

Progressive Treatment Solutions LLC wants to build a cultivation house in the Casino Bingo building at 3485 Industrial Drive. They were represented by Christine Heck, a podiatrist from Chicago; Deb and Len Mahler of Burrr Ridge; and Kayvan Khalatbari, a marijuana consultant from Colorado. Len Mahler is owner of Chicago Vendor Supply and Deb Mahler is a registered nurse. Their team also would include a lighting and water conservation scientist, and Laura Harris, former head of Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, Heck said.

The push is stirring involvement of local business interests. Mark Janko of Janko Realty and Development stood alongside The MedFarm when it presented its plan to the council two weeks ago. On Monday Janko said: “We have the building (bingo hall) listed and we might be an investor.” He then vouched for Progressive Treatment Solutions medical credentials.

Chamlin, Dahl, Webby, Simborg and Goldberg spoke on behalf of Nassau Ventures. They emphasized their local connections. Dahl is a former senator and Peru businessman. Chamlin is from Peru and developed the Kohl’s and Wal-Mart shopping area. Simborg developed Peru Place Shopping Centre. Chamlin and Dahl are developing a residential subdivision in Peru.

Chamlin said their venture began when cannabis prospectors called Dahl for land or warehouse space. Dahl established Double D Express trucking and warehousing in north Peru.

Dahl voted in 2009 to legalize marijuana in Illinois. The bill passed the Senate but failed in the House. He said the state’s current pilot program “is headed off into the right direction.”

Chamlin reflected the fierce competition by saying local partners will make his group more transparent but later in the meeting saying, “We’re not going to show all our cards tonight.”

More cards might be shown in August. The MedFarm will hold a public forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 in city hall and Nassau Ventures will do the same at 6 p.m. Aug. 19. The companies will present their plans and explain medical marijuana.

The four proposals lie in Peru’s northern manufacturing zones. When the council voted to approve Agricare’s special use, only Alderman Rodney Perez voted against it. As he had voiced in prior meetings, Perez said he was concerned about Agricare’s the site being closer than 2,500 feet from tenants living in a former motel-turned-apartments on Trompeter Drive. After the council’s 7-1 vote approving the special use, Agricare’s attorney produced a copy of state rules that said residential use means an area zoned exclusively for residential use, and said the area Perez was concerned with is not zoned exclusively for residential use and is predominantly business and manufacturing.

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

Related Stories:
• Clergy wary, but not yet opposed, to processing medical marijuana
• Would you work in a licensed pot greenhouse?

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by: METALWORKER

Is the Peru Police Dept . along with the mayor going to set up a Sub station across from the pot barn and do a drug check on all leaving the area?
Winn the state and county along with the Peru police dept. be doing random checks of the facility?
I can see no good coming of this venture.
The area already has more drunks per capita than any place in the state.
Now our leaders, and I use the term very loosely, want to add drugs.
If a medical MJ permit is issued to anyone I would like to see a surrender of that persons driving permit , period. There are, at this time no regs on home much is over the limit.
We no have to watch for drunks on the road so if we have to add drugs, who will be safe?
Most of you are up in arms over the drugs coming across our Southern boarder, stop using and they will have no reason to come here.
I am flat tired of paying for your bad habits.
Am I the only one who is tired of paying a Police force to ( fight} LOL drugs while at the same time paying a mayor and Gov. to allow people to use this stuff?
Where in the hell are our pastor, ministers and Rabbis. Why are they not speaking out?
Where are you, You will vote against a school, a swimming pool and any thing for our children, you raised a ruckus over a soccer field and are dead silent over this.

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