Alderman Reilly Wins City Council Approval of River North Tavern License Moratorium

Source:  Alderman Reilly Reports 10/13/17

This week, Alderman Reilly secured City Council approval for a series of ordinances that create a “Tavern License Moratorium” across the vast majority of the River North neighborhood.  The Moratorium only applies to tavern licenses (bars and nightclubs) but does not prohibit the issuance of “incidental licenses” required to open new restaurants.

Alderman Reilly sponsored the ordinances after discussions with the Chicago Police Department and local neighborhood leaders regarding a significant increase in quality-of-life complaints related to a number of liquor establishments operating as taverns or nightclubs in River North.

The Tavern License Moratorium was carefully crafted by placing each moratorium on only two blocks of frontage at a time.  As such, there are dozens of these two-block moratorium zones that, together, blanket River North.  The Alderman took this approach because, if a moratorium is lifted in the future, it cannot be re-imposed for one full calendar year.

Using the two-block moratorium approach, the Alderman could lift the moratorium on two blocks to accommodate a potential new proposal, without lifting the moratorium for the entire neighborhood.

Many people assume aldermen determine who does, or does not, get liquor licenses.  This is not the case.  In fact, it is the City’s Liquor Commissioner who makes those decisions.  Aldermen and police commanders have the ability to object to new liquor licenses, but ultimately the Commissioner determines whether or not to issue them.

In most cases, prospective liquor applicants take the time to visit with the local police commander and alderman to review their proposal and discuss potential issues or concerns regarding their operations.  That said, there is a growing trend of applicants circumventing the Police Commander and Alderman and simply filing applications with the city.

By creating this Tavern License Moratorium in River North, those interested in opening a new tavern or nightclub in the neighborhood can no longer circumvent the Police Commander and Alderman’s Office.

Alderman Reilly is a strong supporter of the Hospitality Industry in downtown Chicago, but believes this initiative is a helpful and necessary safeguard for residents in River North.  The Moratorium ensures greater transparency  and allows the Police Department and Alderman to thoroughly review tavern proposals before an application can be filed.