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posted: 1/23/2013 4:52 PM

Carol Stream may allow beer, wine sales at gas stations

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Beer and wine sales soon could be allowed at gas stations in Carol Stream in response to requests from owners who say such sales could boost their bottom lines.

Village officials say the owners of three stations in town approached them about liquor sales -- one going so far as to send a check for a liquor license before learning the village board hadn't yet considered an ordinance allowing it in the first place.

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Two of the stations -- a Mobil on the southwest corner of Army Trail and County Farm roads and a Shell on the southeast corner of North and Gary avenues -- are set to undergo major renovations, and their owners have said alcohol sales would be "a significant part of their proposed redevelopment," Village Manager Joe Breinig said.

The third station, a BP on the southwest corner of St. Charles and Schmale roads, originally requested the ability to sell liquor four years ago, but that request was denied by the board.

Now, village officials are considering the request again as more gas stations begin to upgrade their sales facilities as convenience stores.

"It seems like times have changed since then," said Village President Frank Saverino, who serves as the village's liquor commissioner.

Already, 10 communities in DuPage County allow liquor sales at gas stations: Burr Ridge, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Itasca, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Wayne, West Chicago and Wood Dale, according to a June 2012 survey of 25 communities by the DuPage Mayors & Managers Conference.

Under the proposed Carol Stream ordinance, only beer and wine sales would be permitted at gas stations, while the sale of individual cans and or bottles would be prohibited. Sales of beer would be limited to six-packs or more.

Sales would be limited to the hours when gasoline is sold and would be prohibited from 1 to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The ordinance also would limit the sale of beer and wine to 20 percent of a store's gross retail sales, as well as limit the floor area available for beer and wine sales to 20 percent. The intent is that the sale of liquor would be secondary to the sale of gasoline and other items, Breinig said.

Each business would have to apply for a license individually and pay a yearly fee of $1,375.

The village board was set to vote on the ordinance Tuesday, but it was tabled after Trustee Don Weiss said he wants to hear from gas station owners themselves at the next village board meeting.

"I have a lot of questions on it," Weiss said. "I question why this has to be allowed in gas stations when their primary purpose is to sell gasoline. I don't see where this is a necessity. We have plenty of other places to shop in our community where liquor is sold."

"Gas stations by their very nature are convenient, and as a result we're setting ourselves up for an additional public safety issue," he said.

Trustee Mary Frusolone said her initial reaction was similar to Weiss', but she now favors the ordinance because it gives local gas station owners a "competitive advantage" in a market where they are making less money on gas sales and more money on what's sold in their stores.

"If someone wants to buy alcohol it's not going to change their behavior much," Frusolone said. "They can go to a convenience store right across the street. They can go to the Jewel. They can go to Walgreens. They can go to a lot of other places."

The village board is expected to vote on the ordinance Feb. 4.

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