Residents concerned about liquor license
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about a planned liquor store at 4701 N. Milwaukee Ave were discussed at the July 31 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, while a request for a liquor license for the 7-Eleven store at 4859 N. Milwaukee Ave. recently was denied.
A resident who lives near the site of the proposed liquor store distributed copies of a letter for residents to sign and mail to the Local Liquor Control Commission. Alderman John Arena (45th) plans to oppose the license application, according to his chief of staff Owen Brugh.
The letter states that a packaged goods license should be denied for the site because it is "surrounded by residential properties" and because of its proximity to Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave., and to "a pool hall where alcohol may be brought in." Chris’s Billiards is located at 4637 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The letter expresses concern that the eight-space parking lot in the rear of the property would not be sufficient because the residential tenants in the building also use the lot and taxi cabs sometimes park in the lot. It also states that vehicles often are double-parked in the congested alley behind the building.
The letter states that there are several liquor stores within walking distance of the two-story building, which previously was occupied by a carpet store. The building has four apartments, according to the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
The liquor commission denied a request for a new packaged goods license for the 7-Eleven store, which is in the Veterans Square shopping center, on July 16. The store had a liquor license for several years, but a new license was required after a change in the store’s ownership.
"(The commission) received several objections to this liquor license application," liquor commissioner Gregory Steadman wrote in a letter to 7-Eleven. "Most notably, the commander of the 16th Police District objects to this application due to law enforcement concerns. The aforementioned objections all state this business would be a detriment to a community that is currently facing issues of crime, loitering and more."
16th District commander James O’Donnell said that he objected to store’s request because of its "close proximity to the CTA Blue Line, which is a major commuter hub."
The 7-Eleven corporation is appealing the decision, but the store cannot sell liquor during the appeals process because it applied for a new license instead of seeking a transfer of an existing license by changing the officers of the company holding the license. The previous owner’s liquor license would not have expired for several months, but it is not valid because the owner no longer oversees store operations.
The store has no history of liquor license violations, city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection spokeswoman Jennifer Lipford said.
Also at the association’s meeting, copies of the Jefferson Park Advisory Council’s basketball survey on the basketball court at the park were distributed. The council, which is seeking to have the outdoor basketball court removed due to concerns about drug use and other crimes, asks residents if they would support replacing the basketball area with a tennis court.
The council is at odds with Arena over whether the court should be removed. The court is adjacent to the park’s three tennis courts.
Residents at the meeting asked 16th District lieutenant John Garrido if the basketball court has become a magnet for crime. "There are problems there, but you couldn’t tell that from the statistics," said Garrido, who was the guest speaker at the meeting.
The 16th District, which consists of 12 beats and covers 30 square miles, is the largest district in the city. Garrido said that one of the challenges facing officers is that the Kennedy Expressway cuts through the district, sometimes slowing response time.
Garrido said that the number of arrests in Beat 1623, which includes a portion of the Jefferson Park area, is 352 this year, up 125 arrests from the same period last year.
It also was reported that the association is seeking volunteers to help harvest crops and weed at the Garden for the Hungry at Laramie Avenue and Ainslie Street from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays. Association board member Judy Skotzko said that vegetables from the garden are donated to the food pantry at Northwest Church of Christ, 4602 N. Kilbourn Ave.