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The liquor licenses, and code changes, continue to fly around City Council chambers. Monday, October 28, was no exception as no less than five items on the agenda addressed liquor license issues.
The brand new Walgreens on Chicago Avenue asked for and received a Class N liquor license (sales at grocery stores and larger combination stores) allowing them to sell liquor when the store opens. The new store, complete with green roof, windmills, and a zero carbon emission footprint, is scheduled to open November 21. Because the grand opening is so close at hand, Council suspended the rules and granted the license immediately. Walgreens pays $35,000 as an application fee and $11,500 per year to maintain the license.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th ward, said that liquor was entirely too prevalent in displays at the Walgreens on Touhy. “Somebody needs to go there,” she said, as there are “little displays of alcohol all over the store, especially right up front.” Walgreens assured Council that liquor sales make up less than 5% of sales in most stores, and they fully expect Chicago Avenue to bring in that percentage or less.
Next up was a change to the wine shop liquor license, Class Y, allowing for wine sales by the glass. The change request came from the Wine Goddess on Main and Custer who said that book clubs, knitting clubs, and similar small meeting groups asked to meet in her space over glasses of wine. Grant Farrar, the City’s Corporation Council, said “the time is right” for such a change. Council agreed, and suspended the rules so that the change takes place immediately. Wine by the glass may be sold at all Evanston wine shops, though patrons are limited to two glasses per visit.
The new Peckish Pig on Howard applied for a license. They do not plan to open until December, so there was no need to suspend the rules. Their license will be up for action next meeting.
Jilly’s on Green Bay changed ownership necessitating the withdrawal of one license and the issuance of another. Liquor licenses in Evanston are tied to the owners of a business and not the business itself, and each time a business holding a liquor license is sold the license expires and the new owner must apply for a new license. Council suspended the rules and issued the new license immediately.
Finally, the license issued to Pensiero Ristorante on Oak Avenue, in the Margarita Inn, has lapsed. Council decreased the number of Class C liquor licenses by one as a result. And Starbuck received its license. Brief controversy surrounded the application two weeks ago, but by the time October 28 rolled around all controversy apparently evaporated – the item passed on the consent agenda without debate or discussion. Customers can now sip a beer at Starbucks after 4:00 pm, a friendly amendment made at the request of Alderman Delores Holmes, 5ht ward, after the Consent Agenda had passed.
Council’s agenda contained items other than liquor licenses. A public meeting on the expansion of the Howard-Hartrey TIF took place, though no one spoke other than the City’s TIF consultant. The expansion, if passed, will allow the City to expend TIF money in assisting Autobarn in taking over the former Shure location behind the Jewel-Target-Best Buy shopping Center.
More events may be coming to the lakefront. The Lakefront Use policy, which currently limits events on the lakefront, has been modified under a three-year pilot project. At issue is the impact of events more than the number, with a limit attaching to what the City terms “high impact” events. Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd ward, proposed an amendment tightening the definition of “high impact.” Her issue was sound amplification, which she said immediately heightens the impact.
The definition of “amplification” was not included in any material, however. Questions over Starlight concerts and bullhorns used at the beginning of 5K races went unanswered. Ald. Wynne’s amendment failed. Council voted to begin the pilot project 7-2, with Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st ward, joining Ald. Wynne in voting no.
E-cigarettes will be treated the same as tobacco cigarettes under Evanston law. Council amended the current tobacco policy, part of Evanston’s clean air ordinance, to include the electronic devices that vaporize nicotine rather than burning it.
Ald. Rainey protested. “I’ve talked to so many people about this,” she said. “Overwhelmingly, they tell me we should not pass this.” Non-smokers and smokers alike, she added. E-cigarettes help smokers quit, and “it seems to me that every effort humanly possible to help people stop smoking should be supported,” she said.
While Council agreed with the sentiment, they did not agree with her on the ordinance. “Nobody knows” the health impact of e-cigarette vapor, said Alderman Don Wilson, 4th ward. “It is dangerous to put people potentially at risk” when Council lacks sufficient information, he said.
“Vapers,” as e-cigarette users call themselves, found no friends on Council, and the measure passed 8-1. E-cigarette users must now join tobacco users in designated smoking areas if they want to vape.
Finally, the Township dissolution referendum passed Council, but not as presented. Rather than asking citizens whether the Township should be continued, as originally proposed, the referendum will ask whether the Township should be dissolved. In March, the question facing voters will be as follows: “Shall the Township organization be discontinued and abolished in Evanston Township?”
The amendment passed 9-0. The referendum will go on the ballot after a 7-2 vote, with Ald. Holmes and Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 5th and 2nd wards contain most of the City’s Township clients, voting no.