Proposed liquor-code changes get mixed responses from Champaign council

Proposed liquor-code changes get mixed responses from Champaign council

CHAMPAIGN — The city council provided mixed opinions Tuesday on proposed tweaks to the liquor code, including designated downtown open-carry areas for events and allowing drinking at specialty grocery stores.

The designated downtown open-carry areas would be in effect only during events like Friday Night Live, and would allow people to walk with drink in hand — likely in plastic cups — onto public sidewalks, streets and alleys if they've been purchased from establishments within the designated area.

Council member Alicia Beck said those areas could be exclusionary to certain people and hard to enforce. She suggested putting up signs that indicate the areas where people can hold drinks.

"When you have an event that's publicly funded, like Friday Night Live, if citizens don't feel welcome, it's a real problem," Beck said. "It's not a welcoming atmosphere for everyone to be exposed to alcohol ... and that's for a number of reasons, some of which are religious."

Council member Greg Stock said the open-carry areas could be OK if they're allowed for specific, restricted hours and if the community is thoroughly educated on what the areas allow.

A "sip 'n' shop" proposal would allow people to drink in the retail sections of grocery stores or specialty food/liquor shops. This wouldn't be allowed on the University of Illinois campus.

Council member Matt Gladney said he has a hard time seeing why people would need to drink while grocery shopping.

"Maybe if (stores) want to have a wine-tasting event where people can mill around in that area, I'm fine with that," Gladney said.

On the other hand, council member Tom Bruno said he's all right with "sip 'n' shop."

"I don't think you can rationally argue that we'll have intoxicated people in the produce aisle or that it's going to be a big problem in the grocery store," Bruno said. "Nobody needs to drink while they're grocery shopping, but no one needs to smoke a cigarette or buy a lottery ticket."

Council members voted unanimously to let city staff go ahead with drafting code tweaks that take their opinions into account.

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rsp wrote on September 13, 2017 at 10:09 am

I can still recall when one local store had an ashtray in one of the aisles, so people could put out their cigarettes there instead of the floor. It was always odd seeing it there but never once saw a cigarette butt on the floor. It was perfectly placed.

"I don't think you can rationally argue that we'll have intoxicated people in the produce aisle or that it's going to be a big problem in the grocery store," Bruno said.

I don't think Bruno does any shopping, there's already the occasional intoxicated person in the produce aisle but more likely picking up more alcohol.

They might use "designated" cups for public events so they are easily seen from a distanse. That way if they have to stay in one area they can easily see if someone is leaving.