Trustee elections prompt Villa Park, Oak Brook to look at liquor laws
Villa Park and Oak Brook are taking different steps after residents with liquor licenses were elected last week to their village boards.
James "Jim" Nagle, a member of the LLC that owns the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook, was elected to serve on the Oak Brook village board. John "Jack" Kozar, an attorney and co-owner of the bar Fuel in Villa Park, was elected to a seat on the Villa Park village board.
But both towns have local laws preventing elected officials from having liquor licenses.
So, Oak Brook Village President Gopal Lalmalani says Nagle is transferring ownership of the Drake Hotel's liquor license to a management group.
"It won't be his anymore," Lalmalani said. "That is what he told me before the election and what he is telling me after."
Many of the hotel's operations already are run by a Rosemont-based management company, First Hospitality Group. So Nagle said the liquor license transfer makes sense.
"It should have been in their name to begin with," Nagle said. "It's their employees, they do the training and scheduling and so forth."
In Villa Park, village trustees are debating how to revise the town's liquor laws. A draft proposal was discussed on Monday night.
Village Manager Rich Keehner, Jr. said the proposed ordinance would align with recently relaxed state codes that allow elected officials to have liquor licenses in certain instances.
If the draft ordinance is approved in Villa Park, Kozar wouldn't be allowed to vote on liquor issues pending before the board. Kozar's businesses also would be required to sell food.
However, some trustees raised questions about the food sales requirement.
"I think there should be some percentage to make sure that the sales of food is more than liquor," Trustee Cheryl Tucker said. "If we're going to put this ordinance into effect, we have to have some way to verify that it is being done."
Tucker, who did not win reelection to the board, is expected to have a say on the final version of the ordinance. A revised liquor law is scheduled for a final vote on April 26.
"In the end, I think the president and the trustees will make the right decision for the community," said Kozar, who campaigned in part to "modernize antiquated laws" in Villa Park.
Newly elected trustees in Villa Park are set to be sworn in at a board meeting on May 10. New trustees in Oak Brook will take their oaths of office during the village board meeting on May 11.