BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington City Council is expected to consider a liquor license request Monday that has been opposed by several residents in a west Bloomington neighborhood.
Adjeet Singh, former owner Hot Spot Grocery and Liquor, 1102 N. Hershey Road, wants to open Park Pantry at 906 S. Morris Ave., near Miller Park. To sell all types of packaged alcohol seven days a week at the convenience store, Singh applied for a PAS liquor license as Puma Enterprise Inc.
The request is listed on the council's consent agenda, which comprises items to be adopted without discussion. When the council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, any council member could ask that the request be pulled for further discussion and then voted on separately.
It is typical to have new liquor licenses on the consent agenda, but both City Manager Tim Gleason and Mayor Tari Renner think the item will be pulled.
"My understanding is the liquor commission heard a handful of complaints from some of the residents of that neighborhood and it was based entirely on what their history had been with the previous liquor store/convenience center," said Gleason. That store has since closed.
Several people also spoke against the request during the council's June 17 committee-of-the-whole meeting. Among them was Karen Bays, who said adding more alcohol establishments is not the kind of revitalization needed on the west side. She also expressed concerns about business hours and said the neighborhood has been very quiet since the other business closed.
"I think a step in the right direction to address some of those (concerns) is to shorten the hours of operation versus what was originally requested by the new owners," said Gleason. "We're taking it in front of the council following the recommendation of the liquor commission to approve."
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On June 11, the three-member Bloomington Liquor Commission, led by Renner, recommended approval but imposed several conditions.
Those include closing at 11 p.m., although the owner can request a change after the first six months. In addition, liquor sales must be less than 50 percent of the store's total revenue; if requested by the commission, the owner must provide invoices to show compliance with that condition. The owner also must install outdoor security cameras and lighting.
The former business "was a liquor store and the new business is a food/pantry store," said Renner. "They will sell alcohol, but my idea of a pantry or convenience store, like 7-Eleven, is they close at 11 (p.m.)."
"And I think it is unfair to hold against the people who are applying and who have a decent record of investing in our community the sins of those who came before them at that location with a different business model," said Renner.
Also on the consent agenda is a proposal requested by City Clerk Leslie Yocum to eliminate quarterly billing for liquor licenses and automatically move to a semiannual billing cycle beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The change would be more efficient and align the city with surrounding municipalities.
"That's another efficiency that Leslie thought was some low-hanging fruit and I agreed," said Gleason. "We'll let council decide."