Urbana won't issue liquor license

URBANA – With King Park residents out in force Monday night, the Urbana City Council voted unanimously not to allow beer and wine sales at a proposed small grocery store near King Elementary School.

Doris Batts of 1103 W. Hill Street, U, was among the more than 50 residents who jammed city council chambers to urge rejection of a special-use permit proposal to sell beer and wine sought by the Happy Brothers Nine Corp.

"I am so glad," Batts said. "Our kids are so important. High school kids are dropped off at that corner and they'd be able to get someone to buy it (alcohol) for them. We just don't need that."

The corporation, whose principal agent is Ibrahim Odeh, wanted to open the grocery at 907 W. Fairview Ave., just east of the Family Video near the intersection of Fairview and Lincoln avenues.

City planning officials said they don't expect Happy Brothers Nine to open the small grocery without a liquor license.

"I'm very pleased," said Del Owens, 1310 Eureka St. "I have grandkids at King School and I'm against all the problems. We don't want the things that happen at the Home Run Food Mart to happen in our neighborhood."

The city of Urbana has demanded that the Home Run Food Mart, which is in a different neighborhood, hire an armed, licensed security guard by Dec. 1 because of fights, shootings and other problems.

The principal of King School, Jennifer Ivory-Tatum, also urged rejection of alcohol sales for the proposed grocery. She said vandalism is already a problem at the school and might be made worse if beer and wine are available nearby.

Empty cans and broken bottles might become a problem in a new playground in King Park that schoolchildren use during recess, she added.

"The King Park neighborhood is a fragile community," Ivory-Tatum said. "We really believe the sale of alcohol would be a hindrance to our children remaining safe in our neighborhood."

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