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St. Charles leaders talk liquor license changes

But new City Council will have ultimate decision

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – The new St. Charles City Council will decide what changes will be made to the liquor rules, but discussions Monday night indicated support for a late-service permit, distinctions between bars and restaurants and establishing a multimember liquor commission.

Police Chief Jim Lamkin told the Government Services Committee that many options suggested last month – including those mentioned above – are possible to implement.

The City Council has been scrutinizing the downtown bar scene since Mayor Don DeWitte, who also acts as liquor commissioner, asked aldermen in August to change the closing time from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. in an effort to curb overserving.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Martin said changes regarding liquor license rules should be made after Ray Rogina assumes his role as mayor and the new aldermen, Ron Silkaitis and Art Lemke, are sworn in next month.

“Get rid of the bars and keep the restaurants,” Martin said. “You figure out how to do that.”

Rogina said he supports having the council annually review the 2 a.m. late-night license as well as appointing citizens to the liquor commission.

“I’m convinced we’ll get good people,” Rogina said.

Third Ward Alderman Bill Turner and 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis said they had concerns about the commission’s makeup. Specifically, Lewis said, she dislikes the idea of it having two elected officials and three appointed citizens.

“I have that concern because it’s adjudication,” she said. “When citizens start doling out punishment to businesses ... I just think maybe that’s going in the wrong direction.”

City Administrator Brian Townsend said the City Council would decide on the liquor commission’s authority.

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