At a regular board meeting Tuesday night, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 4-2 to approve a resolution that would put the question of whether the board should adopt an ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any new Class M liquor licenses, which are exclusively granted to video gaming establishments, on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The referendum question is strictly advisory and non-binding, meaning the board isn’t required to adopt the prohibition into law. The vote on the referendum is largely a measure of where the community stands on the issue and is typically utilized to guide future decisions by elected officials.
The board’s vote comes roughly a month after a group of residents started a petition drive to protest against Lucky Brew LLC, a proposed gaming cafe that was seeking to setup shop at 406 Lake Street, within a few blocks from Maywood Fine Arts, the Metra Station and the Maywood Library.
In March, the board voted 5-2 in favor of issuing a Class M liquor license to Lacey’s Place, a video gaming establishment seeking to move to 611 W. Roosevelt Rd., on condition that Lacey’s meets minimum requirements, such as securing a lease, pulling a permit and building out the space.
The business, however, is still stuck in a lease dispute with the building’s landlord. It has a year from the time the board approved its Class M liquor license to meet those minimum requirements or the license may be repealed.
Since the board approved the license for Lacey’s Place, the public dissatisfaction with gaming cafes, in general, and Lucky Brew, in particular, has grown. The petition, which was created in June, garnered more than 100 signatures.
And during its meeting on July 25, the village’s liquor commission voted 4-2 against recommending Lucky Brew for a Class M liquor license approval. Lucky Brew proprietors were absent at the Monday meeting, the second time they’ve failed to show up to a commission hearing at which they were scheduled to appear.
Opponents of the gaming establishments argue that the businesses will attract unwanted quality of life issues, such as loitering and crime.
Trustees Isiah Brandon and Michael Rogers — who both voted along with Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Trustee Henderson Yarbrough and Trustee Melvin Lightford in favor of granting Lacey’s Place a Class M license — have argued that Lacey’s Place would generate much-needed tax revenue for the village and, since its in a busy location with lots of surveillance, the quality of life issues would be kept to a minimum.
Rogers also noted that an ordinance already in place essentially restricts the number of gaming establishments that can setup in the village to one, a regulation designed to provide a check on their proliferation throughout the village.
Trustee Isiah Brandon, who along with Mayor Perkins voted against the resolution to allow a Nov. 8 referendum (while Rogers abstained), suggested that the referendum take place in the April 2017 election instead, so that more time can be dedicated to educating the public about video gaming.
“In other places, they normally have town halls and educational conversations about the type of businesses (they’re considering) and (how those business may impact the) community,” he said during the July 26 meeting. “That has been missing here.”
Village attorney Michael Jurusik, however, recommended that the referendum take place during the Nov. 8 election, a presidential election year. He said that the November election will generate a higher voter turnout, thus providing greater public feedback on the issue. He also argued that the roughly three months between now and November should be enough time to organize town hall discussions and a more comprehensive public education campaign if members of the board choose to do so.
Jurusik, however, cautioned board members to avoid speaking out either in favor or against the referendum, since to do so would be a violation of election law and is “a serious offense.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the village board has put a liquor-related matter up for a vote. In 2008, the board put a non-binding advisory referendum question on the ballot in the Feb. 5, 2008 Primary Election. Residents were asked whether the village should prohibit any new Class B (package store) liquor licenses in Maywood.
That election year, more than 68 percent of residents who voted were in favor of prohibiting the issuance of Class B liquor licenses.
The village clerk has until Sept. 1 to certify the Nov. 8, 2016 referendum question with the Cook County Clerk for placement on the ballot. Early voting starts Sept. 29. VFP
The referendum question to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot (the question can be modified by the board):
“Shall the Village of Maywood adopt an ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any new Class M (video gaming cafe/bistro) liquor licenses in the Village of Maywood?”