Ald. Graham strengthens distruptive business ordinance

February 7, 2012
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Ald. Deborah Graham’s (29th) amendment to strengthen the Deleterious Impact Ordinance passed in the City Council last month will bring more power to residents disrupted by businesses that have liquor licenses in their neighborhoods.

Graham’s amendment, which passed 48-to-1 on Jan. 18, makes two main changes to the nuisance ordinance.

It eliminates the “overburdened” petition process for residents impacted by a business that’s being noisy, littering or where many arrests occur, among other problems.

Before the amendment, the petition process required at least 50 signatures from legal voters who lived 500 feet from the accused business for a license revocation or suspension hearing to take place.

The amendment also reduces the number of illegal felonies, narcotics or weapons violations a business can have in a 12-month period from five to three.

A few disruptive businesses in the 29th Ward – Winners Sports Bar and Grill, 5912 W. Madison St., and Van-Central Food & Liquor, 5575 W. Van Buren St. – prompted Graham to amend the law.

But, she added, “the police department has a list of stores with issues.”

“We have a lot of great businesses in the ward,” she said. “I don’t want a few bad businesses to ruin it for everyone.”

Graham said the ordinance will have a “city-wide impact.”

“This ordinance drew attention from across the city,” Graham said, referring to complaints she’s heard about businesses on Rush Street Downtown, along with various Chicago residents who live above bars and have trouble sleeping.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose ward includes parts of Austin, supported Graham’s amendment in a press release before the City Council vote.

“The vast number of businesses in our wards and the city of Chicago are good businesses,” Ervin stated in the release.

“This ordinance is for those that cause disturbances and violate our way of life. It levels the playing field for our residents.”

Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) voted no for the amendment.

Although Moreno acknowledges the ordinance could benefit many communities, “he was concerned that opening up the deleterious impact process would dilute its effectiveness,” said Matthew Bailey, Moreno’s spokesman, in an e-mailed statement.

“Having been through this process with four businesses in the last two years, Moreno has often been frustrated with the leeway that these bad businesses receive,” Bailey wrote. “The process, as it stands already takes too long. He wants results, not excessive meetings and promises from the businesses that they’ll do better.”

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