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Liquor Code Revisions Sailing Toward Approval

The proposal would require bars and restaurants to close by midnight unless they receive a late-night permit.

St. Charles, Ill., aldermen on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, advance proposed revisions to the city liquor code that include a new late-night permit for establishments wanting to stay open past midnight. | Credit: Patch file
St. Charles, Ill., aldermen on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, advance proposed revisions to the city liquor code that include a new late-night permit for establishments wanting to stay open past midnight. | Credit: Patch file

St. Charles aldermen, meeting as the City Council Government Operations Committee on Monday night, gave their unanimous recommendation for formal City Council approval of major revisions to the city’s liquor code.


City Council members hope the changes will help rein in periodic problems in the downtown with brawling, public drunkenness, and public urination on buildings.


Generally, the changes would require Class B and C license holders to close at midnight, except on New Year’s Eve/Day, unless they have obtained a late-night permit to stay open until 1 a.m. or until 2 a.m. The ordinance would allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day.


The proposal would decrease the liquor license renewal fees for Class  B1, B2, B3, C1, C2 and C3 licenses, which would have a midnight closing time. A 1 a.m. permit would cost $800 a year, while the 2 a.m. permit would cost $2,300. The combined cost of a liquor license and late-night permit would be significantly higher than the 2013 cost of renewing a liquor license, which allows a 2 a.m. closing time.


The net effect, said Mayor Raymond Rogina, is that a bar owner could renew his liquor license and get a 1 a.m. permit in 2014 and save $600 from the amount paid in 2013.


Based on the fee, a 2 a.m. permit would cost the same bar owner $900 more than in 2013.


The liquor code revisions have been a priority for Mayor Raymond Rogina since his election in the spring, but the issues that sparked the revisions have been an ongoing concern for well more than a year. The issue came to a head in August 2012, when a spike in alcohol-fueled violence and related problems prompted then-Mayor Donald DeWitte to propose cutting back the citywide 2 a.m. closing time for the city’s taverns and restaurants.


The liquor code revisions — an amalgam of ideas formulated first among the mayor and aldermen and, in recent months, polished by city staff and members of the new St. Charles Liquor Control Commission — have yet to draw a response from the St. Charles Tavern Association. The group formed about a year ago to try to tackle the issues that had city officials considering DeWitte’s proposal.


To date, city officials say only one establishment has written to the city about the code revisions, and Rogina said that letter was based at least in part on incorrect information. He also said the letter came from the owner of an establishment outside the downtown area.


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