JEFFERSON PARK — New liquor stores would be banned from setting up shop in most of the business districts in the 45th Ward under a proposal from Ald. John Arena.
Residents of the Far Northwest Side need another tool to block unwanted liquor stores and convenience stores from opening up near their homes, said Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.
"This will give the community a lot more say in who gets to sell liquor in our community," Arena said.
Heather Cherone joins DNAinfo Radio to explain the proposed moratorium:
The proposed ordinance was considered Wednesday by the City Council's Committee on License and Consumer Protection and sent to the full council for a vote April 30, Brugh said.
The moratorium would still allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol, which will aid the revitalization of the business districts, Brugh said.
Applications for packaged good liquor licenses — which are also required for grocery stores that want to sell booze — would be blocked in commercial districts on all of the major streets in the 45th Ward, including the Milwaukee Avenue business district in Jefferson Park and Gladstone Park, one of the area's busiest retail centers, Brugh said.
In addition, stores looking to sell beer, wine and alcohol wouldn't be allowed to open along Central Avenue, Higgins Avenue, Northwest Highway and Nagle Avenue as well as parts of Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road, Brugh said.
Similar moratoriums are in place in business districts throughout the city, Brugh said. The ordinance would also ensure that areas are becoming part of the 45th Ward under the new council map remain under a moratorium, Brugh said.
The proposed moratorium is set to be imposed in two-block segments to allow the alderman — with the support of a majority of the residents who live closest to the store — to lift the ban after one year to allow desired stores to open their doors, Brugh said.
It is also more difficult to transfer liquor licenses from one owner to another in an area covered by a moratorium, Brugh said.
Some stretches of Milwaukee Avenue are oversaturated with liquor stores, Brugh said.
"This is just one more tool for the community," Brugh said.
The proposed moratorium has two exemptions designed to allow two new liquor stores to open in Gladstone Park, Brugh said.
Pradeep Patel, who owns two liquor stores in Rogers Park, plans to open a "high end" liquor store at 5636 N. Milwaukee Ave. A community meeting in February drew no opposition to the store, Brugh said.
Because of Patel's clean record with the city and his plan to offer products not available anywhere else in the area, the alderman supports the store, which would renovate a vacant building near Milwaukee and Mason avenues, Brugh said.
In addition, Arena supports the reopening of a convenience store in a shopping mall a few blocks away, Brugh said. Concerns that the store was too close to a nearby day care center, which delayed its tobacco license application, have been resolved, he added.
That store will operate under the same half-dozen restrictions as the 7-Eleven near the Jefferson Park Transit Center, which include a ban on the sale of half-pints of liquor, single-serving containers of beer, wine and malt liquor as well as liquor for sale for less than $6.99, Brugh said.
So far, the area near 7-Eleven has been relatively free of crime and public drinking — troubles which prompted Arena and Jefferson Park Police District officials to initially block the store's application for a new liquor license after a change of ownership.
"The summer and warmer weather will be the real test of that," Brugh said.
Arena also initially opposed a proposal for a new convenience store in a former carpet store at 4701 N. Milwaukee Ave., across the street from Wilson Park. However, Arena withdrew his opposition after the owners agreed to a similar set of restrictions.
Once the license application process is complete for the two new stores that plan to sell alcohol, the moratorium will be extended, Brugh said.