Aurora to allow drive-up alcohol sales, sipping while shopping at mall

Shoppers in Aurora may be able to sip a glass of wine this summer while walking through Fox Valley Mall, or pick up a case of beer at a liquor store drive-up window.

Both will be permitted under changes the city council made Tuesday to the city's liquor law.

The council revised much of the liquor code after months of review by its Rules, Administration and Procedure Committee.

Not everyone was happy with some of the changes.

Alderman Emmanuel Llamas tried unsuccessfully to get the council to drop the idea of the mall-strolling license and the drive-up purchase.

He also tried to remove a provision that will allow for self-service machines to dispense beer and wine.

And he opposed a section that references a Bilter Road/Farnsworth Avenue "entertainment district."

Llamas said the council has not decided yet whether to make the area an entertainment district. Furthermore, people living in neighborhoods near Farnsworth and Bilter already oppose the idea of moving Hollywood Casino from downtown to Farnsworth.

Aurora officials worked last year to get changes made to state gambling law to remove the restriction that casinos be located on or along a waterway. The city owns land on the west side of Farnsworth, between Bilter and Corporate Boulevard, and the mayor has directed development officials to determine if the site would be good for a hotel and convention center, plus the casino. It is across from the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall.

Aldermen Judd Lofchie and Bob O'Connor joined him in voting against the mall-strolling and drive-up provisions. Llamas said having drive-up sales would project "a negative image" on the city, and Lofchie was concerned about ensuring proper identification and about people drinking and driving.

Four aldermen joined Llamas in opposing the Bilter Road/Farnsworth Avenue Entertainment District provision.

Under the previous law, Aurora had 23 types of liquor licenses. Of those, 14 had three or fewer license-holders, and two categories had none.

Now there will be four broad categories of licenses: for packaged-goods sales, on-site consumption, specialty on-site consumption and specialty by area.

The new code will have more flexibility to deal with changes in the liquor industry without having to revise the code every time a new idea - such as self-dispensers, florists delivering champagne with gift baskets, or tearooms serving wine - comes along.

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