Peru approves marijuana dispensary; group now waits state license

Business will be located in the former Jimmy John’s building at 1320 E. 38th St.

Kana Grove received approval from Peru's City Council to operate at the former Jimmy John's site.

Peru is set soon to have La Salle County’s second marijuana dispensary.

The Kana Grove marijuana dispensary received approval Monday from the Peru City Council. The request was unanimously approved, aligning with the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning committee.

While the group was granted approval from the city, Kana Grove will have to wait to have its license from the state of Illinois before it can open to the public. According to members of the development group, the state is going through litigation, putting a hold on their opening plans.

Kana Grove estimates it would be able to begin taking customers about one year after it receives the state’s license.

Kana Grove was selected by the state, by way of lottery, to be eligible to receive an operating license.

“It was a no-brainer for us to want to operate in Peru,” Ostrowitz said. “We wanted to operate in Peru because there is a thriving economic landscape here.”

The business will become the sole operator of the building located at 1320 E 38th St., the former location of Jimmy John’s. City officials were unsure of the future of the current occupant, Western Factory Outlet.

Kana Grove will be remodeling the interior and exterior of the building as well as going forward with a planned repaving of the parking lot. This will increase the planned number of parking spots by more than 40 spaces.

A rendering of the proposed Kana Grove North Illinois marijuana dispensary in Peru.

The council was reassured of the safety of the location and the business through comments from Police Chief Bob Pyszka. Pyszka said he has been in contact with police chiefs in Ottawa and Morris and they have reported no problems with the dispensaries in their jurisdictions. The other marijuana dispensary in La Salle County operates in Ottawa.

Issues were brought up about a potential problem related to traffic. The development group performed a traffic study through Chamlin and Associates that indicated the business would not cause traffic issues. The study indicated the dispensary is projected to cause less of a traffic strain than the previous Jimmy John’s.

The proposal’s biggest opposition came from Alderman Mike Sapienza, who cited a straw poll agreement the council made years ago not to allow a dispensary south of Interstate 80.

“Quite a while ago, when all of this first came up, the council had a long discussion on the placement of a dispensary,” Sapienza said. “I’m not opposing the dispensary, I’m just opposing the placement of it.

“We had said at that time that it should be north of 80. I still feel very strongly that it should be north of 80. The reason it’s not north of 80 right now is that this is their choice site.”

Sapienza also mentioned the council came to this agreement was because of traffic concerns. Despite Sapienza’s placement concerns, he voted to allow the dispensary, aligning with the votes of that ward’s aldermen.

Alderman Tom Payton rebutted Sapienza’s comments, saying he asked the group during the planning and zoning committee meeting if they considered locations north of 80.

The group said it found no building suitable.

“They check the boxes and it’s going to be a nice looking store,” Payton said. “I think it’s going to be everywhere eventually and in my research in California, Colorado and Arizona, we are going to ride the wave until the market is saturated and then they will be just like any other small retail shop that comes to a city.”

Mayor Ken Kolowski welcomed the business to Peru and mentioned the council will be making decisions of where to allocate the extra sales revenue when that time comes.

“I like the fact that they are really going to dress up the building,” Kolowski said. “It’s going to be a nice addition to the north end. Over time it’s going to be another retail business, but right now it’s new and there’s a lot of regulations.”