PEORIA — The Peoria Police Department doesn’t want a North Valley dollar store to sell liquor. The city legal department also believes it might be problematic.
But the city Liquor Commission has recommended packaged goods be allowed for sale at 820 NE Jefferson Ave., the site of a Family Dollar outlet.
Expect that recommendation to face opposition in the City Council, considering the representative for that area is against it. A council decision is possible March 22.
“We’re trying to deal with a host of problems already as a result of existing establishments that already sell liquor,” 1st District councilor Denise Jackson said.
Without discussion during a meeting last week, the commission voted 4-1 to recommend the council authorize to-go alcohol at that Family Dollar location.
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Commissioner Camille Coates dissented with colleagues Stephen Morris, Michael O’Brien, Tim Spears and Paul Winkler.
Coates and O’Brien voted last month against recommending packaged liquor be sold at two South Peoria convenience stores, although the other commission members voted in favor.
Led by Jackson, who also represents South Peoria, the council voted 10-1 to deny permission to In & Out Market, 304 S. Western Ave., and TNT Outlet, 2203 SW Jefferson Ave.
The commission (approval) and council (rejection) also diverged recently regarding TequilaRia II Wine and Spirits, proposed for 1621 N. Knoxville Ave. Same with Gopuff, a food-delivery service that wanted packaged-liquor authorization at 3455 N. University St.
In general, the council appears to pay extra scrutiny to applications for standalone liquor stores and packaged-goods dealers, as opposed to alcohol-by-the-drink restaurants.
Three nearby homicides over the past year
The rationale for opposing the Family Dollar request is the same, according to Jackson. She cited three homicides in that area over the past year, including one last summer about a block south of Family Dollar.
“Anybody who is around that area during the warm season will see crowds and crowds of people gathering,” Jackson said. “I personally don’t think that would be a great idea for Family Dollar.”
A Family Dollar representative said the Northeast Jefferson Avenue outlet of the national chain would sell only beer and wine and close at 9 o’clock nightly.
“If you live in this area or travel through regularly, you may not want to stop at a place that’s open until 12:30 (a.m.),” Atlanta-based attorney James Balli said. “We want to be family friendly. We want to give parents an option to pick up normal alcohol choice with their meal.”
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Family Dollar sells retail grocery items as well as clothing and hardware, among other things.
In a letter to the commission, police Chief Eric Echevarria noted a liquor store about 300 feet from Family Dollar — In-N-Out Liquors, 305 Wayne St. That store has been open almost 30 years.
At least five other booze-selling businesses are within 1½ miles of Family Dollar, according to Echevarria. He also referred to the ongoing renovation of the nearby former Taft Homes public-housing development.
Redubbed Providence Pointe, the federal and Peoria Housing Authority project is to cost about $47 million.
“The police department believes the approval of this application would be harmful and counterintuitive to the city’s efforts to redevelop and stabilize this residential community into (a) vibrant and safe neighborhood,” the police chief wrote.
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‘Location means everything’
Family Dollar’s proximity to Providence Pointe also might result in violation of a city ordinance that regulates how close liquor-selling businesses can be to a public-housing development.
According to assistant city attorney Mike Toren, Family Dollar is about 435 feet from the project, some 15 feet closer than permitted. Toren informed the commission about that before it voted.
That potential violation notwithstanding, Jackson suggested her support of or opposition to 1st District alcohol establishments depends on where they are.
“Location means everything,” she said. “Not that I’m against people having a liquor license. It’s all contingent upon the location.”
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Family Dollar store sparks controversy over Peoria liquor proposal