Plainfield liquor ordinance under review: Plan would condense complicated licenses

Bars, restaurants, and liquor stores may soon see different liquor license classifications in Plainfield, thanks to an ordinance proposed to repeal and replace the village’s sale and consumption of liquor regulations.

Local establishments must apply for one of 31 liquor license classifications to sell alcohol in Plainfield. Village leaders will consider consolidating some of those classifications.

By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff

The village of Plainfield will look to clean up their ordinance that governs local liquor licenses, hoping to make the process of applying a little easier.

On Monday, May 8, members of the village board got a first look at a draft ordinance that would repeal and replace the current regulations on alcohol sales and consumption.

The revision comes after a decade of amendments and add-ons have created a lengthy and sometimes confusing ordinance.

“Staff had done a comprehensive review of this ordinance, it had not been reviewed since 2007,” Joan Meyers, Counsel/Prosecutor to the Plainfield Police Department, told the board. “Over time, what was happening was that licensees came forward… and asked for a specific classification that maybe we didn’t have in the current ordinance, we would then modify the ordinance to accommodate that request. As a result, the current ordinance now has 31 separate classifications, making it difficult not only for the licensees but certainly for staff to process.”

Meyers said that after the review, staff worked to consolidate and clarify the ordinance. The new ordinance, up for the board’s consideration, now contains just 15 classes of liquor licenses, plus the allowance of temporary permits for special events.

“There were certain restaurants that had a restaurant license, but then they would come forward and want an additional license to carry out wine that was partially consumed in the meal,” Meyers said. “We had a separate license classification for that. So, to make it easier for these licensees, and especially these restaurants, we consolidated all of that, so they now will only be applying for one license that would allow them to do anything that a restaurant may or may not want to do during the course of their regular business.”

The new ordinance would involve some extensive changes. In addition to cutting the number of license classifications in half, it removes unused definitions, clarifies hours of operation, and outlines restrictions for consumption on at a licensed establishment.

Board members asked for some clarification on certain definitions within in proposed ordinance, including definitions of specific alcoholic beverages.

“I just had a couple of head scratching moments reading some of these, like one that’s near and dear to my heart is the definition of beer, and this is not how I would define beer,” said Trustee Larry Newton. “Just a couple of things like that, the definitions were just head scratchers, like I said… I just wasn’t sure where those definitions came from.”

That language, according to staff, comes directly from the state of Illinois, however, it could be tweaked or changed if the board deems necessary.

Trustee Cally Larson also asked for clearer language regarding prohibited conduct inside a licensed establishment. The ordinance prohibits nudity inside licensed establishments, however, Larson asked that there be clarity when it comes to mothers who may be breastfeeding.

“I just would like to get some verification regarding mothers who are nursing, that in no way they can be affected,” Larson said. “It just seems to be such a topic in media, especially with mothers and social media and things like that, I just want to make sure there is protection for things like that, that item one does not discriminate against that group.”

The village’s liquor license process governs licenses for alcohol sold at bars, restaurants, packaged liquor stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, microbreweries, recreational facilities, and private clubs. Most of the village’s liquor licenses require an annual fee of $1,500 to $1,900. Special permits for single events run between $100 and $300, depending on the type of event.

Board members also asked in staff could consider the possibly of having some establishments utilize video cameras on site, a practice already commonly used at most village establishments that sell alcohol.

Village staff will take suggestions from the board and work them into the new ordinance if possible. The board will vote on the new ordinance at a later date.

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