DANVILLE — Aldermen will consider Tuesday night reducing the number of certain types of liquor licenses but expanding the number of liquor licenses for groceries and drugstores, which has drawn criticism from some owners of local package liquor stores.
The city administration's proposal includes creating a new liquor license category for a microbrewery and creating a new category for groceries and drugstores that sell alcohol.
Currently, groceries and drugstores are included in the same category, classification P, as package liquor stores. That classification currently has 15 licenses.
Under the proposal, a new PG classification would be created for groceries and drugstores with a total of 12 licenses, and the P classification would be for package liquor stores only, and the number of those licenses would be reduced from 15 to nine.
The city council will consider final approval of the liquor license changes when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville.
David Wesner, corporation counsel for the city, said the changes are intended to bring the classifications closer to the true nature of the businesses holding the licenses.
Namir Khadour, owner of Vermilion Liquor North in the 2600 block of North Vermilion Street, said he is working with other liquor store owners on a petition to present to aldermen Tuesday night to demonstrate that they are against adding several more liquor licenses for groceries and drugstores.
Khadour said he realizes that the new Meijer store will need a liquor license and there were no more available in the current P classification, but he doesn't understand why the city wants to make more licenses available to groceries and drugstores when none are being requested.
There are currently nine package liquor stores, which under the proposal would be equal to the number of licenses left in the P category. But there are only six groceries and drugstores that currently have liquor licenses, yet under the proposal, there would be 12 licenses available in the new PG category.
Khadour said Meijer and the jobs it brings will be good for the community, and he has no problem with that store having a license, but he doesn't believe the PG category should have so many more licenses. "This is not good for small businesses," he said. The larger stores can survive without alcohol business, but his store cannot, he said.
And, he said, he's not against competition but there's only so much business out there. Within 2 miles of his store, he said, there's already a lot of competition from Wal-Mart, CVS and County Market.
"There's only so much you can take sometimes, especially in this category," he said.
The proposal includes reducing from four to two the number of class AA licenses for motels or hotels with restaurants that sell alcohol. And Class B, which is restaurants that sell beer and wine, would be reduced from seven to six licenses, and Class E, which covers clubs that sell alcohol, would be reduced from 11 to eight licenses.
That would be a total of six less liquor licenses in those categories but with the additional six licenses in the new PG category the total number of liquor licenses in the city would remain the same.
In reference to reducing the number of licenses in certain categories, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the city is not trying to limit competition but is trying to limit the overall number of liquor licenses in the city. He said having more liquor licenses overall is more difficult for law enforcement and liquor control to manage, and that's why the city sets limits on the number of licenses.
And in regard to competition from the larger stores selling alcohol, Eisenhauer said a superstore like a Meijer will bring people in from outside the community who would not drive to Danville just to go to a liquor store. He said he believes there would be an overall increase in liquor sales as well as an increase in overall shopping in the community.