Hanover Park approves lifting happy hour ban
Hanover Park's more than 30-year-old happy hour ban will be lifted Aug. 15, after a 4-1 vote by the village board this week.
Trustee Herb Porter cast the sole "no" vote Thursday, and Trustee Fanny Lopez Benitez abstained because of their shared concern that there wasn't enough empirical data to back up the belief that the excessive drinking that originally triggered the ban was no longer a concern.
While no such studies or statistics exist, Hanover Park Police Chief Michael Menough said officers are in regular contact with the village's bars and bar owners and don't recognize any ongoing issues involving liquor-law compliance or patron behavior.
"If we were to pass this ordinance, I think we would see pretty quickly if there was a change in the activity or behavior," Menough said. "I'm comfortable with the proposed change."
Porter responded that more was needed.
"I guess what I'm looking for is more than anecdotal incidents or anecdotal information," he said. "I remember the days of happy hour."
Lopez Benitez agreed.
"I caution us against passing ordinances without looking at evidence," she said. "I don't feel comfortable voting today because I don't think I have enough information to make that decision."
Village President Rod Craig said Hanover Park is already years behind the curve of such neighboring communities as Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg, which haven't reported any problems since a 26-year statewide ban on happy hours expired in 2015.
But he added that his letter to bar owners announcing the change will caution that any increase in drunken driving or the like could cause the issue to be revisited.
Village staff reported that Naperville's ongoing ban was the nearest one they knew of.
"Hanover Park is a different place than it was all those years ago," Craig said. "I think the time has come where we can be comfortable with the state rules."
Though Illinois no longer bans happy hours, it replaced that prohibition with several other restrictions, including limiting such drink specials to four hours a day, 15 hours a week, and before 10 p.m.
Illegal promotions include the sale of multiple drinks for the price of one, establishing set prices for an unlimited number of drinks, increasing the amount of liquor in a drink without a proportional increase in price, and any game or contest that involves drinking alcohol or awards a drink as a prize.