Proposed revisions to the city’s liquor code soon will go before the St. Charles City Council and likely be wrapped up before year’s end, concluding a controversy over alcohol-related problems downtown that has dragged on for more than a year.
Mayor Raymond Rogina said early Monday evening, after the St. Charles Liquor Control Commission had reviewed a draft of proposed revisions to the liquor code, that he hopes the changes will bring the downtown closer to his vision of what the city’s central business district should be.
Rogina said he envisions the downtown as “a fun entertainment place for people to go without having to worry about fights and other activity … that really is sophomoric. We want to allow the enjoyment without the rowdiness.”
City officials began scrutinizing the downtown area in early 2012, meeting with bar owners to express their concerns about “over-service” of alcohol — in other words, allowing intoxicated individuals to continue drinking. City officials focused on that issue as key to a bevy of other problems — from drunken streets brawls and bar fights to instances of public urination, public intoxication and related issues.
The concerns came to a head in August 2012 when police saw a spike in such activity in one weekend, including one incident in which at least one officer was struck. That prompted a call by then-Mayor Don DeWitte to cut back closing times from 2 a.m. citywide to 1 a.m.
The downtown bar owners, however, coalesced into the St. Charles Tavern Association and asked the city for time to work out solutions with the city.
Rogina said Monday those efforts have had an effect. He pointed out that Police Chief Jim Lamkin has pointed out repeatedly since early this year that the number of serious incidents his officers have been called to have declined. And, while other calls have increased, Lamkin has pointed out that many of those calls have been initiated by the establishments before the situations could become more volatile.
“When this (liquor code revision) is complete in the next month, we will have accomplished control on sales in this community,” Rogina said.
One change already has been pushed through — the creation of the Liquor Control Commission, which advises Rogina as the city liquor commissioner about issues ranging from proposed ordinance changes to liquor license applications to liquor code violation complaints.