By Bob Balgemann – REPORTER

The Village Board has denied a request for a Bar-Boutique (BB) Liquor License for property at 7914 N. Second St. The 3-3 tie vote, with Trustee Aaron Wilson absent, came at the Oct. 3 Board Meeting and meant the motion for approval failed. Mayor Jerry Bolin and Trustees James Kidd and Erick Beck voted in favor of the request. Opposition came from Trustees Terri Bailey, Steve Johnson and Robbin Snodgrass. There were no comments from Trustees or from the audience. The Village’s Liquor Commission recommended denial of the request during its Sept. 19 meeting. Members of the Commission are Ike Trickie, representing the community, and Trustees Bailey, Kidd and Wilson. Mayor Bolin serves as Liquor Commissioner. That vote was 3-1-1 against recommending approval. Commission members Bailey, Kidd and Wilson voted against issuing the license; Liquor Commissioner Bolin supported it; and Commission member Trickie abstained.

Planning and Zoning Coordinator Carrie Houston provided the Commission with background on the request. The business was proposed to have five video gaming terminals and be located in a 930-square-foot portion of a two-tenant building on the west side of North Second St. and Harlem Road. The other tenant is a nail salon. No food initially would have been served in the establishment. Eventually, it was possible that sandwiches and frozen pizza would have been served. Hours were proposed to be from 6 a.m. to midnight. Houston said the business could be open fewer hours, should use be less than anticipated.

Commercial Zoning District

The building is in a Commercial Community Zoning District and the proposal is in compliance with the Village’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan. The Zoning District currently has a nail salon and drug store to the north, dentist’s office to the south, bar and commercial strip center to the east and storage garage on the west. There currently are two video gaming locations nearby, at Gills Diner, 250 feet to the south, and at Legends, about 300 feet to the west. Village staff did find that as long as the proposed use met all applicable zoning, building, health and fire codes, it would “substantially” comply with all ordinances of the Village. “Should the Liquor Commission feel that Bar-Boutique Gaming is appropriate for this location the Commissioners should recommend approval of the Liquor License Class BB for ‘Big Red’s Hot Slots …'” the staff report stated.

During the Village Board Meeting, Mayor Bolin said the owners (Michael Rossi and son, Steven Rossi) had been in business for more than 10 years in Mount Morris. “They had a clean record,” he reported. In a statement, Michael Rossi said Sharky’s Sports Bar in Mount Morris was, “a family-run business that brings a neighborhood friendly place, which treats everyone just like family.” In the past years, they gave back to the community by hosting, Good-Fellows Motorcycle Run, Alzheimer’s Motorcycle Run and Let Freedom Ring Concert with a Motorcycle Run. Their big event, he stated, was the Wounded Warrior Benefit Concert, where neighboring streets were blocked off with multiple bands playing on a stage.

Increase Needed

So far four BB Liquor Licenses have been issued in Machesney Park and they all are active. Had the request been approved on Oct. 3, the Village Board also would have had to increase the number of licenses from four to five. The BB license fee is $2,500, more than any of the Village’s other licenses. The neighboring city of Loves Park has issued 17 such licenses and all of them are active. Video gaming has become a regular source of income for the Village since its approval in 2012-13. Revenue was generated for part of that year and it amounted to $49,191, according to the Village’s 2016-17 Budget. Income totaled $123,950 in 2013-14; $153,111 in 2014-15; and an estimated $159,651 in 2015-16. The current Budget is estimating $144,000 in revenue. Statewide, there are 24,000 licensed video games in operation in more than 5,600 establishments. The State’s portion of wagering reached $1.299 billion in 2015-16, a 3.8 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The Lottery comprised 56 percent of that amount followed by riverboat gambling, 22.5 percent; video gaming, 20.5 percent; and horse racing, 0.5 percent. Riverboat gambling declined by 2.7 percent last year while video gaming proceeds increased by about 10 percent.

Mayor Bolin said in a follow-up interview Oct. 7, that during the applicant’s 10 years of doing business in Mount Morris, his establishment was run properly, there had been no problems with Police and it was in good standing with the community. Locally, it would have posed no threat to nearby residents of being a disturbance. He added that no objections from nearby residents had been made during the Liquor Commission meeting or during the Village Board meeting. In a statement, he said, “Compared to Loves Park, Machesney Park only has 23.5 percent quantity of these entities for BB licenses. This is a good revenue source for any community as long as it fits in, without disturbing the residential quality of life.” “Keep in mind, Illinois does not have an approved Budget and revenue sources from the State are still subject to change. I voted ‘yes’ for this because it fit within our community, it would supply a revenue resource and the owner had (a) previous quality of life record.”



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