Bid for liquor store deferred by board


The Zoning Board of Appeals continued a hearing on a proposed liquor store at 5636 N. Milwaukee Ave. because the store’s owner did not attend the board’s July 18 meeting.

Board members wanted the owner to address the concerns of residents, and they decided to continue the hearing until the board’s Sept. 19 meeting, according to residents who attended the meeting. A company representative was the July 18 meeting, but his name would not be on the liquor license, and the board was seeking testimony from the prospective license holder.

A letter opposing the project which 43 residents signed was presented to the board. Residents have expressed concern that there are too many liquor stores in the area and that the location is of particular concern because a portion of the 1,600-square-foot building runs along Marmora Avenue, a side street. The only driveway to the site’s parking lot is on Milwaukee.

Alderman John Arena (45th), who supports the project, asked the five residents who were at the hearing to tell him what would make the project acceptable. Under the B3-1 zoning of the site, a special use must be issued by the zoning board before a packaged goods liquor license can be issued.

Area resident Joe DiCiaula said that Arena showed the residents a rendering of the exterior of the store and told them that having an active business on the site is better than having a vacant building in need of improvement.

Arena also told the residents that the store would have to close by 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by 10 p.m. on Sundays and that those restrictions would be included in a plan of operation which the city can make a condition of the store getting a liquor license. A resident who attended Arena’s community meeting on the project in February has said that a store official told residents that a closing time of 1 a.m. on the weekends was being considered.

While the owner has agreed to the closing time of 11 p.m., other details of the plan of operation would be negotiated during the liquor license application, Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said.

Arena has had a policy of requiring applicants for packaged liquor licenses to adhere to a plan of operation. In addition to restrictions on hours, the plans can prohibit the sale of single-serving containers of alcohol and require that video surveillance of the premises be provided. Arena has introduced an ordinance that would create a moratorium on new packaged liquor licenses in almost all areas of the ward.

An aide to Arena described the store as a "high end" establishment and said that the owner has had no licensing problems at his other stores. The store would be called "4th Octave."

Area resident John Garrido, who attended the hearing, said that one of the main concerns of residents is that the store would be opening shortly after the re-opening of a convenience store at 5530 N. Milwaukee Ave., where a liquor license is pending. "That’s only about 500 feet away from this site," Garrido said.

Garrido lost by 30 votes to Arena in a 2011 aldermanic runoff election, and he is running for alderman again in 2015.

Garrido said that the issue will be discussed at a meeting which a group of Gladstone Park residents plan to hold at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at Saint Tarcissus School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave. Other topics to be discussed at the meeting include a proposed safety improvement project on Milwaukee Avenue and jet noise problems.