City Council introduced an ordinance that will, if passed, allow the sale of beer in gas stations with more than 3,000 square feet of interior retail space. As written the ordinance would cover only the Shell station on Oakton Street just east of the sanitary canal. It will be up for final vote next week. 

Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the Shell station, promoted the ordinance. The Oakton Shell “has over 3,000 square feet of space, [which] far exceeds some restaurants. It is a very full service establishment. … I really encourage us to do this,” she said. The ordinance will allow the sale of beer only – no wine or liquor may be sold. 

Concerns over on-site consumption were quickly swept aside. “No one would be able to buy a six-pack and sit down with a Subway sandwich and drink their beer?” asked Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward. The Oakton Shell interior space contains both a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway. 

“There is absolutely no consumption on-site,” responded Ald. Rainey. Hours of sale will be between 8 a.m. and midnight seven days a week, and the ordinance prohibits sale of beer through a drive in window or to anyone sitting in a car. 

The measure passed unanimously at Administration and Public Works, but met some opposition at the full Council meeting. Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said, “I am planning on voting against it. I am philosophically opposed to selling beer at gas stations.”

“This is not your average gas station,” replied Ald. Rainey. It has “an extraordinarily large convenience store” and “is much larger than many places we are allowing the sale of liquor by the drink.” 

Alderman Fiske then pointed out that the City has faced numerous controversial applications from convenience stores “that pose a problem.”  

No one joined Ald. Fiske in opposition.

No one mentioned the store’s proximity to James Park and the park’s busy schedule of kids’ activities.

Introduction of the ordinance was approved 6-1. The final vote is scheduled for June 22.