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updated: 12/11/2013 9:34 AM

Arlington Hts. OKs liquor sales at drugstores, convenience stores

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Convenience and drugstores in Arlington Heights will be allowed to apply for licenses to sell liquor for the first time in more than 30 years under a policy change village officials approved Monday.

Calling the policy outdated, village trustees meeting as a committee of the whole struck down a 1976 measure that prevented "convenience-type food marts and/or drugstores" from selling liquor.

Arlington Heights code previously distinguished between liquor stores, which could sell only limited food items, and convenience stores, which could sell everything except liquor.

"What this is doing is eliminating the struggle we have when there is a wine store that wants to sell fine cheese or a convenience store that wants to sell liquor," said Trustee Joe Farwell. "When you read our code it was confusing and misleading. This will clarify the code and make it rational."

Businesses smaller than 2,500 square-feet will not be allowed to sell liquor because of concerns about robberies, though smaller locations that are already open will be grandfathered in, officials said. Gas station convenience marts will remain unable to obtain a liquor license, said assistant village attorney Robin Ward.

Officials expect the ordinance to be adopted on Jan. 6 and drugstores, including the four Walgreens in Arlington Heights, will be able to apply for liquor licenses at that point. Walgreens District Manager Lee Polster said he intends to apply for liquor licenses for all four stores.

Aside from the Walgreens, four existing convenience stores will now be eligible for a liquor licenses: two 7-Eleven locations, 1789 W. Algonquin Road and 1418 E. Hintz Road; a GR-8 Mart, 1034 W. Rand Road; and La Raza, 1748 W. Algonquin Road.

The decision to grant a liquor license will rest with Mayor Tom Hayes, acting as the liquor commissioner.

"Nobody is entitled to a liquor license, it's a privilege not a right," Ward said.

The village board also had been discussing ideas for regulating restaurants with "bring-your-own-beverage" policies, but decided to drop the proposal Monday.

According to Police Chief Gerald Mourning there have been no issues with BYOB establishments and the department has not received any calls or complaints about it.

State guidelines advise restaurants with BYOB to not pour or uncork the liquor and not to serve or display it. The state leaves it up to individual municipalities to regulate, however.

Some trustees said they have seen some restaurants going against those state guidelines, but admitted it would a difficult task to regulate when the village doesn't even know how many businesses are allowing BYOB.

"If things aren't broken they generally don't need to be fixed," Trustee Tom Glasgow said. "I'm not a fan of over-legislation."

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