Wednesday, August 1, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a July 17 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 3-3 on a motion to lift the moratorium on Class M liquor licenses, which are specific to gaming bistros. The motion also called for the board to recommend issuing a Class M license to a business owner who wants to open what would be the village’s second gaming bistro.
Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, along with Trustees Kimyada Wellington and Antonio Sanchez voted in favor of the motion while Trustees Isiah Brandon, Ron Rivers and Melvin Lightford voted against the motion. Trustee Henderson Yarbrough was absent. Since the vote was tied, the motion failed.
The moratorium on the issuance of Class M liquor licenses has been in place since December 2016. The board instituted the ban after it had already approved the issuance of a Class M liquor license to Lacey’s Place, a video gaming establishment at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd., in March 2016.
That issuance, however, drew the ire of many residents, who were against video gaming establishments in Maywood because of numerous public safety and quality of life concerns. Trustees in support of granting Lacey’s the license, however, said that those concerns were overblown and not consistent with the reality.
Nonetheless, in June 2016, a group of residents created an online petition expressing their opposition to video gaming that garnered more than 100 signatures. The next month, the board voted 4-2 to put the issue on the ballot as a non-binding advisory referendum.
Ramzey Fakhouri, who owns the strip mall at at 608-22 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, presented to the board back in April his desire to open Lucky Bernie’s — a deli that would also feature beer, wine and video gambling — inside of a former Subway restaurant in the strip mall.
Fakhouri said that at the time that the video gaming concept is essential to the financial feasibility of his proposed restaurant, which he added is critical to his ability to stay afloat amid high property tax payments that have hampered the strip mall’s ability to attract, and keep, tenants. The revenue from gaming, he said, would help offset his expenses.
On July 11, Maywood’s liquor control commission, which Perkins chairs, voted 5-0 to recommend that the board drop the moratorium and allow Fakhouri the Class M liquor license essential to opening his deli and gaming bistro. Commissioner Mary “May” Larry was absent during the vote.
During the July 17 meeting, there seemed to be some confusion among the board about the motion that was in place.
When Rivers pointed out that lifting the moratorium would theoretically open the door to any number of potential developers wanting to apply for Class M licenses, Perkins pushed back, insisting that lifting the moratorium was only being considered because of Fakhouri’s particular case.
Clerk Viola Mims explained that even if the board approved the motion, Fakhouri would still need to go through a series of steps before he obtained the license. The wording of the motion, however, seemed to indicate that Fakhouri obtaining the license depended on the board’s approval during the July 17 meeting.
Maywood’s attorney, Michael Jurusik, said that the board could clarify the motion by splitting it in two, resulting in two separate motions — one on whether or not the moratorium should be lifted and the other on whether or not the board should consider giving Fakhouri a Class M. Jurusik said that the second motion could be tabled for another date, pending more board deliberation.
“You need to take those two separate,” Jurusik said. “In order to move forward, if you want to have more than one Class M video gaming cafe in town, you need to decide if you want to … do away with the moratorium. That’s step one. So it’s going to require a code amendment.
“Step two is you need to decide do you allow a second license, do you put a cap on the number of Class M licenses you’ll have in town?” Jurusik said. “You have that authority as a board. You don’t need a cap because nobody can force you to issue a liquor license.”
While Perkins emphasized Fakhouri’s plight, some trustees said that the public’s preference for a moratorium on Class M licenses should also be considered.
“The young man has had the [strip mall] for years in Maywood and he came and appealed to Maywood for help so he could continue to do business,” said Perkins. “He owned that strip, he came and appealed.”
“There’s a lot to consider. We’re considering the people who elected us, who live here, and what their concerns are,” said Brandon, “but we also have this business owner who also pays taxes as well and what his wish is. This deserves some additional thought, because we have to take both sides into consideration.”
“We’re going to change that moratorium and start letting more bistros in our community?” said Lightford.
Despite Jurusik’s recommendation, Perkins insisted that the board vote on the two-pronged motion as it was presented. When it failed, the mayor asked village staff to bring back additional information on the matter to the board.
“I’m requesting that the staff bring us additional information and bring it at the August meeting,” Perkins said. “At the next meeting, this will come back to the board.” VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page