Walgreens can sell liquor in Naperville, but not downtown
Nine Walgreens and one CVS in Naperville now can apply for a new type of liquor license the city council created Tuesday.
But the Walgreens on Main Street in downtown Naperville is not one of them, as the council also voted to prohibit packaged liquor sales in the downtown at any business other than the three already licensed to conduct such sales.
Concerns about creating a new place for people to buy cheaper alcohol before hitting the bars led five council members and George Pradel, the mayor and liquor commissioner, to vote in favor of forbidding additional packaged liquor sales downtown.
"I'm not assuming Walgreens would behave in any bad way at all," council member Judith Brodhead said. "I'm more worried about the people who are consuming the alcohol and their behavior and this particular behavior of pre-gaming."
So-called pre-gaming or pre-partying is a concern in downtown Naperville, Police Chief Robert Marshall said, as just a few weekends ago police caught some partyers drinking in their cars in a parking garage.
"We continue to patrol the parking garages," Marshall said. "We have video cameras that we use to help us control security."
Concerns with downtown night life safety arose during the summer, when two young men died in a crash at a water-filled quarry just west of downtown and a large fight broke out on Washington Street, also factored into the decision not to allow more liquor stores in the city's commercial center.
"It's just the wrong time," council member Joseph McElroy said. "It's a terrible time to try to start selling packaged liquor in downtown Naperville given the other issues that we've had."
Council members, however, left the door open for potential future consideration of downtown packaged liquor sales -- especially if no problems arise from any pharmacies that gain licenses. The prohibition on additional packaged liquor sales downtown doesn't come with a sunset date, but several on the council said Walgreens could ask later for an exception to the rule.
"A year from now, they can come back clean if they've had no violations," council member David Wentz said.
Council member Paul Hinterlong said additional liquor sales should be allowed downtown as a convenience to residents, and he voted against the restriction approved Tuesday.
"We're looking at bar problems. We're not looking at packaged sales problems," Hinterlong said. "That's the difference I see in this."
Council member Robert Fieseler excused himself from the vote and council member Grant Wehrli was absent, leading to a 6-1 vote in favor of the new restriction.
The new type of liquor license costs $3,000 a year. It prohibits any in-store sampling and sales of individual cans or bottles of beer, except for those defined as "craft beer" in the city's liquor code.