Streets of Liquor or Keep It Dry? The East Village Association Seeks Feedback From East Villagers on Liquor Moratorium
Though there is a long-standing liquor moratoria in place for the area where the new CVS across from the Polish Triangle is located at 1624 W. Division, 1st Ward Alderman ‘Proco’ Joe Moreno recently went to bat at City Hall for the corporation, which began selling packaged goods and liquor a few months ago.
For neighborhood associations like the 30-year-strong East Village Association, whose members worked hard to put the moratorium in place, and for other groups like the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, the Wicker Park Committee, and area schools like Holy Trinity High School and Near North Montessori School that had opposed granting CVS a liquor license, the news of the corporation selling package goods was received with disappointment. The EVA was alerted to the news by a sign in the window at CVS advertising that beer and wine would be coming soon. Per a comment on this EVA blog post, “Community groups have no standing on liquor or zoning. An alderman has to put any changes before the City Council, so a community vote is advisory. An alderman may pledge to abide by such a vote, but that isn’t the case.”
This past Monday, The Pipeline attended the EVA monthly meeting at Happy Village to learn more. The alderman’s decision to green-light CVS for selling liquor has now caused existing and emerging businesses to petition for lifting the moratorium. These businesses include Thornton’s, which plans to open an urban food market in the vacated space on the southeast corner of Ashland and Division (next to the Evil Olive), Garden Gourmet Market at 1130 N. Ashland (pictured is co-owner, Maher Farhan) which opened back in January, and “QTA Services” at 1054 N. Ashland.
The alderman is now asking the EVA to consider reviewing individual applications from businesses hoping for an exception to the moratorium. A show of hands at the meeting indicated that many EVA members are in favor of keeping the moratorium in place.
EVA President Stephen McKnight, pictured, indicated that the vast amount of time needed to analyze requests and conduct background checks on applicants could be spent on other more rewarding efforts like greening the neighborhood.
“Just remember it’s easy when it’s [liquor sales] not on your block,” said EVA member Scott Rappe at the meeting’s conclusion, whereupon it was decided that the association would seek continued feedback from East Village residents (readers who live on the streets affected by the moratoria are encouraged to share opinions on the EVA Facebook page) and draft a resolution/stance on the matter to present at their June 4th meeting.
Most recently, the EVA was successful in preventing the Red Apple Convenient Mart at Damen and Chicago from receiving a packaged good license. According to a volunteer who spoke at the meeting, the effort took “140 letters of opposition, three different alderman. and the West Town Chamber of Commerce” for the filed application to be dropped.
Though unrelated, but perhaps of interest to readers, it is to be noted that the new Walgreen’s moving into the former bank building in Wicker Park has applied for a packaged goods license as well, though there is no moratorium in place at six corners, only a plethora of other spots in which to purchase packaged goods within a two block radius like Life’s a Cabernet, Cellar Rat, Evolution Wine and Spirits, Red & White, Universal Liquors (recent sold to new owners), W Crossings Grocer, and perhaps even the new 7-11 slated to move into the strip mall at 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., if they apply for a license, too.