Council to eye proposals for discouraging excessive drinking at Naperville bars

Naperville police officers keep an eye on bar patrons as they spill onto the sidewalks along Chicago Avenue after closing in the early morning hours. | Jeff Cagle/For Sun-Times Media
Susan Frick Carlman
scarlman@stmedianetwork.com | @scarlman
Aug. 29 12:30 p.m.
Up for consideration

Issue: Municipal funding for social services.
Background: Each year, the city allocates $500,000 to support specific areas of local need, prioritizing special services, seniors’ needs, self-sufficiency, youth and special populations. An expansion of the disbursement is being proposed.
What it means: If approved, a portion of the funds will now also go toward helping eligible low- and moderate-income households with the expense of home repairs, and to help the Fair Housing Advisory Commission study factors limiting access to affordable housing.

Issue: Opening the door to a luxury condominium development for cars on Ferry Road.
Background: Developers of Iron Gate Motor Condos are requesting variances that were approved earlier this month by the Building Review Board.
What it means: With the council’s OK, 13 multi-unit buildings will be built about one-half mile west of Route 59, for storage of high-end collector cars.

Issue: Adding one more late-night liquor permit on the northwest side for Tap In Pub & Carvery, bringing the total to 39.
Background: Tap In, which opened last year in the Hotel Arista, recently underwent renovations and is requesting clearance to remain open later, citing in part a desire to compete with nearby businesses.
What it means: If it passes, the new permit will be the second recent expansion to the city’s limit on the specialized licensing on the northwest side. Topgolf, under construction southwest of Route 59 and Ferry Road, received a late-night permit in June.

Closing time at Naperville bars has been 2 a.m. on weekends for more than four decades, and that appears unlikely to change any time soon. However, you might need to get the barkeep’s attention for a round of shots before the night wears on too long.

Officials are poised to take a variety of steps, short of closing down the bars earlier, that are intended to make the downtown district a calmer place at the later hours.

City Council members Tuesday night will conduct a first reading of several code changes aimed at curtailing some of the heavy drinking that has been blamed for a series of incidents late at night in recent years — some of which have had deadly outcomes.

Initial discussions focused on moving last call up an hour, to 1 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and midnight the remainder of the week. After members of the city’s Liquor Commission gave scant support to that idea — also opposed by some downtown bar workers — several alternative prevention strategies came to the fore.

The recommendations now include a requirement for bar employees involved in security to undergo the Beverage Alcoholic Sellers and Servers Education Training course. The $30 state-mandated training is now required only for people who dispense, sell, deliver or serve alcohol in the city, and they must complete their certification within two months after they’re hired.

A separate training program specifically for security workers will be considered after staff have researched the details involved and reported their findings to the council in mid-November.

Bar safety has been on officials’ minds recently. An elementary school teacher died after he was stabbed as he reportedly tried to break up a fight after midnight at Frankie’s Blue Room in February 2012. In addition, two young local men drowned on July 19, after their driver allegedly plowed into a downtown quarry pond early in the morning following several hours of drinking downtown. Prosecutors say the driver drank eight or nine beers and multiple rum shots before climbing behind the wheel.

Another of the ordinance update’s measures would draw the line on supersize drinks, capping a serving of beer at 20 ounces, a shot at 2 ounces and a glass of wine at 5 ounces. Also in the proposal is a cutoff time one hour before the bars close for the pouring of alcohol shots — with no “last call” permitted when that time arrives.

A ban on bar entry less than an hour before closing time is included in the package as well.

“That was thought of basically to prevent bar hopping late at night,” city prosecutor Mike DiSanto told council members earlier this month.

Officials also will consider forbidding bar specials that mark down the price of a drink by more than half.

The package of rule changes, scheduled for final passage Sept. 16, is the first of several steps planned for addressing the often-rowdy environment in the city core late at night. A report, also slated for Sept. 16, will provide metrics for gauging what goes on downtown when the bars are busy, tracking such offenses as drunk driving, public urination, battery and disorderly conduct. Those components, officials say, could shed light on the effectiveness of other initiatives and perhaps lead eventually to reconsideration of earlier closing times. Input for the report will come from various entities, including the Downtown Naperville Alliance, the Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the public safety sector.

In addition, city staff will look into the technology involved in ID card scanners, which in mid-2015 could become a requirement for renewal of late-night bar permits.

The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

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Up for consideration

Issue: Municipal funding for social services.
Background: Each year, the city allocates $500,000 to support specific areas of local need, prioritizing special services, seniors’ needs, self-sufficiency, youth and special populations. An expansion of the disbursement is being proposed.
What it means: If approved, a portion of the funds will now also go toward helping eligible low- and moderate-income households with the expense of home repairs, and to help the Fair Housing Advisory Commission study factors limiting access to affordable housing.

Issue: Opening the door to a luxury condominium development for cars on Ferry Road.
Background: Developers of Iron Gate Motor Condos are requesting variances that were approved earlier this month by the Building Review Board.
What it means: With the council’s OK, 13 multi-unit buildings will be built about one-half mile west of Route 59, for storage of high-end collector cars.

Issue: Adding one more late-night liquor permit on the northwest side for Tap In Pub & Carvery, bringing the total to 39.
Background: Tap In, which opened last year in the Hotel Arista, recently underwent renovations and is requesting clearance to remain open later, citing in part a desire to compete with nearby businesses.
What it means: If it passes, the new permit will be the second recent expansion to the city’s limit on the specialized licensing on the northwest side. Topgolf, under construction southwest of Route 59 and Ferry Road, received a late-night permit in June.

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