The Columbia City Council at last week’s regular meeting approved changes to the liquor code that will essentially prohibit gaming parlors from opening within city limits and gas stations from installing slot machines.
Only the state can regulate video gaming, per the Illinois Video Gaming Act. But to whom liquor licenses are issued is up to the city. This offers a significant method of regulation since according to the VGA, only establishments with on-premise liquor licenses are eligible for gaming terminals.
Among the changes aldermen approved to the current liquor code is the distinction that an on-premise liquor license will not be issued to an establishment that derives more than 50 percent of its revenue from video gaming.
Additionally, no business can hold more than one type of liquor license, nor can a liquor license be issued to a business that shares a wall with another business with a liquor license, unless they have separate entrances and exits.
“The intent is to not eliminate the restaurants and bars that have them, nor prohibit the way they’re currently being used in a majority of establishments in the city. The sense is the gaming parlors and video gaming rooms at gas stations are just not what I think the city envisioned when the state passed this law,” Morani said in December.
Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul has been vocal in his desire to keep gaming out of the city’s gas stations.
“We do have a concern. When you have convenience stores in town, and you have a group of people there 24/7 — especially during the night hours — and the later night crowd you would attract, it becomes a concern,” Paul said.
“Has that been a concern with other municipalities?” Alderman Jeff Huch asked Paul.
“It has,” Paul affirmed.
The current gaming parlor operating in town, Ace’s Wild at 208 N. Main Street, will be allowed to continue to operate under a “grandfather clause.”
The application for a second gaming parlor, Pair of Dice, was submitted just before the council approved these new liquor code changes.
Through details obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, the business, which does not yet have a building permit, has John Koerber listed as its owner with an address of 105 W. Kunz Street. But provided it meets all the city’s requirements that were in place on the date the application was submitted, Jan. 12, the establishment will be approved, Morani said.
Also at the Jan. 16 meeting, aldermen approved the Columbia American Legion’s Hometown Heroes Banner Project.
“We have many people who have expressed interest that they have family members they would love to be honored in this way,” Legion Auxiliary President Janet Janson said.
Each banner would cost about $110.
One or two banners would be displayed on streetlight poles along Main Street. Each banner would have a name, military photo, and dates and branch of service.
After being displayed for approximately two years, the banners would be taken down and given to the purchasers for their personal use.
Both measures were approved unanimously, with Huch absent.
Committee of the Whole
At Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, aldermen and city personnel discussed potential City Hall renovations and Burger King signs.
In short, the renovations to City Hall will allow for the moving of several offices; the addition of three new offices, a small meeting space and a small break room; and changes to the public’s access to the city clerk’s office.
“Our main goal is to provide enhanced functionality for city hall employees,” Morani said.
Currently employees are spread among four floors.
“The new design will also be more inviting to the public, it will be more secure and allow for more collaboration,” Morani said.
“It’s probably going out for bids in the next four to six weeks,” Morani said.
In other news, the committee gave tacit approval for two additional stand-alone signs at the new Burger King and additional signs attached to the building, which is located off Route 3 next to McDonald’s.