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3 a.m. retail liquor sales on the rocks in Joliet

City may phase out late-hour license

The Joliet City Council votes Tuesday on a measure aimed at phasing out liquor licenses that allow sales as late as 3 a.m.

But the proposal faces questions from a couple of council members, who are asking whether the city is creating a hardship for mom-and-pop taverns.

“I’m not comfortable trying to strong-arm some 60-year-old husband and wife out of their business,” council member Larry Hug said as the matter was discussed at a Monday workshop session.

Hug joined council member Sherri Reardon in questioning why the city is doubling the cost of the Class A liquor license originally created for traditional neighborhood taverns.

The annual cost of the license would go from $1,200 to $2,500.

There are 32 Class A licenses in the city now. No more would be issued if the proposal is approved.

A staff memo on the subject said the Class A license has gone beyond its original use for neighborhood taverns.

“This option was designed for the convenience of residents who patronized their neighborhood taverns,” the memo states. “As neighborhood taverns go by the wayside, this option creates liquor stores which are open until 3 a.m. A true liquor store (Class C license) must close at midnight.”

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, also the city’s liquor commissioner, described the license as “very lucrative” and said he would bring information to the Tuesday meeting as to whether the holders are necessarily mom-and-pop operators.

Interim City Manager Steve Jones said the doubling of the fee is intended to be “an encouragement” to switch to another license, saying that issues such as drunken driving have made the 3 a.m. license less acceptable than in bygone eras.

“Three a.m. liquor licenses aren’t the standard anywhere,” Jones said, acknowledging that the proposal is designed to phase them out in Joliet.

Rock Run land buy

The council on Tuesday also will vote on whether to spend $636,000 on land to be used for a future Interstate 55 interchange.

The interchange would provide access to the planned Rock Run Crossings, a 265-acre development of stores, hotels, offices and other uses yet to be built in the northeast corner of Interstates 55 and 80.

Joliet would buy 7.3 acres west of I-55 and south of Seil Road.

“This is property that’s necessary for the proposed interchange that will occur at Interstate 55 and Route 59,” Jones told the council Monday.

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