August 22, 2014

City Council Update

During a more than six hour meeting, the Naperville City Council recently debated many issues.

Proposed Liquor Code Amendments

There was a spirited discussion at the recent city council meeting about what should be done to curb over serving in Naperville bars.

The council didn’t agree to enforce earlier closing times like originally planned, at least not yet.

After an alcohol related crash last month took the lives of two Naperville men, many city council members called for earlier bar closing times to combat the problem of over serving.

The group was presented with recommendations from the Liquor Commission, many of which are already in a best-practices manual drafted by the Restaurant Association, leaving many council members to ask why the bars didn’t just implement them without being forced.

The owners said only some of the bars are the problem and implored the group not to punish everyone.

“We have more regulations than many towns in the entire state of Illinois,” said Jim Burgeron, owner of the Wise Boxer Pour House. “Every time we come up with a new issue like this, and it seems it’s about every two years, we add more and more regulations. The people that are doing their jobs correctly will abide by those new rules and regulations and the people that weren’t doing it right in the first place will continue to not do it right.”

The council had varying views on which of the proposed ordinances could make an impact, but all agreed something needed to be done.

“I’m ready to bring the hammer down and say 1 a.m. on weekends midnight on week days,” said Councilwoman Judy Broadhead.

“Listen, I don’t want an intrusive government but when we have the problems that we have going on we have to do something,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli.

“This is not a problem that has just started, but it has gotten worse in terms of the behavior,” said Councilman Steve Chirico. “Kids make bad decisions, bar owners aren’t going to stop them from making bad decisions.”

“The climate changes after 11:00 at night and there’s a different clientele and we all need to work together,” said Mayor George Pradel.

After an almost two hour discussion, the council directed staff to draw up new additions to the liquor code including reducing maximum beer sizes to 20 ounces and shots to 2 ounces, prohibiting shot sales and entry one-hour prior to close and restricting specials that offer discounts of more than 50 percent. The group also asked for more information on ID Scanning technology to help gather information when incidences happen.

A formal vote on the proposals is set for September 2.

It was made clear by the council that if these new regulations don’t help curb the downtown issues – they would impose the hour restrictions in the future.

North Central College Science Center Approved

There was a vote to overturn a ruling by the Historic Preservation Commission regarding North Central College’s proposed science center at Van Buren and Loomis.

The commission had denied a certificate of appropriateness because they said the college’s plan was too bulky and didn’t fit in with the neighborhood.

College officials said the building is crucial to the growth and development of their programs.

“In my opinion, it is about maintaining our strength as an institution so that we can continue to contribute to Naperville in the many intellectual, athletic, cultural, civic, and economic ways that we do now,” said President Dr. Troy Hammond.

The approval sets plans for the $60 million facility back in motion. The college hopes to open the center by 2017.

Swedish Manufacturer Gets Green Light

The council also approved multiple requests for SKF group, which makes bearings, seals and lubrications systems, to build a 131,000 square foot research and development facility off Warrenville Road.

The annexation and rezoning for the project, also known as project panda, met some opposition from residents – citing traffic, noise, and appearance concerns, but SKF said they would continue to work with the neighbors.

“I don’t want to take the chance of messing up this deal,” said Councilman Steve Chirico. “This is the kind of deal every city wants. It’s good jobs; it’s a responsible company. It’s clean, [it will have] a LEED certified building. They’re going to landscape it nice and be great neighbors. I don’t know what more I could hope for if I was in that neighborhood.”

SKF plans to begin site work on the property next month and will bring at least 80 jobs to Naperville over five years.

Senior Task Force Created

The group also agreed to start a senior task force which will act as a clearinghouse connecting elderly residents with the many services provided for them.

The city will host a seniors conference on September 12 at the Municipal Center with Attorney General Lisa Madigan giving a keynote address.


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