St. Charles’ image as a “drinking town” and perceptions about what the city is doing or not doing to remedy alcohol-related issues downtown are emerging as factors in decision-making by St. Charles aldermen.
The image and perception concerns were cited several times in discussions primarily of a request by David and Julie Lundeen, owners of Lundeen’s Liquors, 1315 W. Main St., for a drive-through window at their liquor store.
A sharply divided St. Charles City Council Government Operations Committee voted 5-4 to direct staff to draft an ordinance that could allow such service, but the disagreement on the issue is hardly over.
The Lundeens first pitched their proposal to the St. Charles Liquor Control Commission about three weeks ago and were warned at that time by Mayor Raymond Rogina, the city’s liquor commissioner, as well as Alderwomen Rita Anne Payleitner, Ward 2, and Maureen Lewis, Ward 5, that their proposal faces an uphill fight. Both are members of the liquor panel.
There are layers of concerns about the proposal, including:
Concerns that allowing a drive-up window at a liquor store would appear to be a loosening of the city’s liquor code at a time when some downtown merchants and residents have pressed the city to curb alcohol-related issues, such as brawling, public drunkenness, and public urination.
Worries that allowing a drive-up window — what one alderman said would be the first of its kind in the Tri-Cities — might compound problems with people drinking and driving after making a drive-through purchase.
Zoning issues related to the size of the property where Lundeen’s operate their West Main Street business, although Rogina insisted the zoning issue is a separate issue altogether.
Yet amid discussion of their concerns, aldermen praised the Lundeens for their good reputation in St. Charles and other communities where they operate liquor stores. They also praised the couple for the good reputation they have established in Sycamore, where for years the couple have run an establishment that has had a drive-up window.
Expect the issue to come back before the City Council in the coming months, after the city staff has had time to research and pull together a proposal.
Liquor License Transfer Approved
Aldermen on Monday also advanced the approval of a Class C2 liquor license for A’Salute Inc., 2400 E. Main St. Rogina said the former East Side Pub had changed hands and its name under new ownership. He described the liquor license transfer as a routine matter.