With a unanimous vote, Peru’s planning and zoning commission made it unlikely the Brothers of Darkness Motorcycle Club will have club activities on Center Street.
The commission voted to deny a text amendment that would allow motorcycle clubs in M1 manufacturing zones and referred the matter to Peru City Council for Monday’s meeting.
“We’ll have a lot of people there,” said Robert Miller, club member who presented the special use petition
What was the plan?
Miller said the goal for 1024 Center St. is a business that makes and sells pallet furniture. It would be fully staffed, close on weekends and employ brothers who are laid off or are union members and not working.
“If we want to stop for the day and go for a ride, we’d have that luxury,” Miller said. “We don’t want to re-zone the property.”
Instead, he said they want a water meter installed at the property because they are currently using port-a-potties and wash stations.
But he said the property would be used for club gatherings and events such as fundraisers.
Miller said the club has 19 members from Joliet to Ottawa and a recent benefit drew 70 attendees.
“If we got to 30 or 50 members, maybe we’d look for another clubhouse,” Miller said.
The city’s attorney, Doug Schweickert, explained the building is currently zoned for manufacturing, so the pallet business could happen there as currently zoned but that would preclude fraternal activities.
That means, to avoid an injunction, club activities would have to stop without a change.
Miller said if he had put on a button-down shirt and tie instead of a leather vest, and worked toward opening a business, he would have been allowed to have his club.
“No you couldn’t,” Schweickert said. “Everyone tries to muddy zoning issues.”
For and against
Peru police chief Doug Bernabei raised an objection to the text amendment based on ingress and egress to and from the property.
“I don’t think it’s conducive to any type of fraternal organization,” Bernabei said.
He said the objection was not because Brothers of Darkness are a motorcycle club, and said Peru police officers have reported nothing but respectful conduct from the members.
Commission chairman Doug Biederstedt said city engineer Eric Carls, who was not present, advised against the amendment.
Alderman Tony Ferrari expressed disbelief the property could be both a manufacturing business and clubhouse.
Club members and Teresa Miller, Robert’s wife, were present to speak positively about the club.
“I’ve never met another group of fellas like this since I got out of the service,” said Thomas Fitzgerald of Mazon, in support of the club members.
Peru attorney Julie Ajster, a Dalzell resident, said in her opinion, the manufacturing side of things would overtake the clubhouse aspect eventually. She also said in her opinion Bernabei was wrong about ingress and egress being an issue in an emergency situation.
Ajster said the Illinois Valley YMCA has a single, narrow entrance and sees a lot of activity.
Peru resident Art Giese said if the Y entrance isn’t proper, it doesn’t make sense to have another hazardous entrance and exit.
Giese also said the Y entrance is probably fine.
“I agree, Art, it’s apples and oranges,” Bernabei said.
Paul Teutul’s reputation as a hothead followed him into the courtroom Tuesday.
Teutul, 69, and his lawyers were in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Poughkeepsie, NY, for a mediation session on Tuesday with JTM Motorsports over allegations that the Orange County Choppers owner promised to promote the company in exchange for free work on his Corvette.
“While both lawyers were verbally discussing the mediation, Paul was getting agitated,” the source told Page Six. “He got up and said, ‘F–k you, I want my car!’”
“After that, he basically leaned over the table and lunged. He never touched the other attorney, but she requested that he be restrained and three court officers came upstairs.”
“He had to be removed by three security officers. They didn’t handcuff him though,” our source continued.
The “American Chopper” star filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in February and revealed in an updated filing in May that there is a $51,841.01 claim against him from JTM Motorsports Inc. He is paying the company $50 per day in storage fees for his car while his bankruptcy case is being heard in court.
Their next court date is in October.
“Heated words. Sure. That’s why people go to court because they disagree on an issue,” Teutul’s rep told us. “Security needing to be called? Never happened.”