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Liquor Commission discusses late-night permit fees

St. Charles officials also hear request for rooftop patio

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles Liquor Commission on Monday discussed its proposed late-night permit fees, which if approved by the City Council would allow bars to stay open later.

Under the proposal, the closing time for bars would be at midnight, but liquor licensees can apply for late-night permits to stay open until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. The later permits would cost extra, and bars can be denied based on their history with police calls.

The city has 23 classes of liquor licenses, and each has its own fee schedule.

As an example, Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Ray Rogina said according to the proposal, a licensee with a base license renewal fee of $1,200 that wishes to stay open until 1 a.m. would pay an additional $800 annually, which would total $2,000. A licensee with a base renewal fee of $1,200 wishing to stay open until 2 a.m. would be charged an additional $2,300, with a total renewal fee of $3,500.

“You want to stay open until 2 o’clock, but that’s going to cost you,” he said. “It’s a privilege. I, for one, have no problem stating it. That’s the reason for the proposal.”

He said licensees who apply for the late-night permits would be reviewed by the City Council, which would include looking at the bar’s track record for incidents involving police. City Administrator Mark Koenen said the city shouldn’t count on the permit fees as a revenue stream, and noted that the additional cost would go toward general city expenses in the future.

Rogina said the city would “certainly entertain” inviting all liquor licensees to City Hall for a meeting about the proposed permit fees before a vote is taken.

In other business, the Liquor Commission discussed a bar owner’s request to add a rooftop patio.

Rich Simpson of the Alibi Bar & Grill, 12 N. Third St., asked commissioners to consider allowing him to add an outdoor rooftop patio, as there’s no room to add an outdoor dining space at the ground level.  

Some commissioners were hesitant to allow the request, including Ward 2 Alderwoman Rita Ann Payleitner, who noted that police have been called to the location 11 times between June and October of this year. Calls included fighting, battery and disorderly conduct.

“Some of those incidents could have proved fatal if they happened on the roof,” she said.

Rogina said he also had concerns about the addition of speakers on the roof, which could cause noise problems, as noise carries when it’s elevated. St. Charles Police Chief Jim Lamkin shared Rogina’s concern.

“What’s the plan to mitigate noise downtown? When it’s 15 to 20 feet in the air, that sound is going to carry,” Lamkin said. “We have to think of the safety and neighborhood surrounding this. … I think those things need to be addressed.”

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