Aldi’s receives approval for ordinance exception

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Aldi’s (6404 – 75th Street) received approval tonight for a special exception to the spacing requirements of the zoning ordinance for “Class A” liquor licenses.  The current ordinance, which was approved five months ago, was put in place to limit the number of convenience stores and gas stations selling alcohol, according to vice chairman Jesse Downing.  The current requirement is that a new Class A liquor license cannot be located nearer than a mile from a present licensee.

Two representatives from Aldi’s were present at the meeting and spoke.  “Aldi’s currently sells beer, but they’d like to sell their award-winning, private label wines as well,” said Marsha Sperber, director of real estate.

Matt Knight, assistant city attorney, explained the process. If the exception is approved tonight, the  next step is that it goes before the Common Council for approval.  Once approved there, then Aldi’s would apply to the Licensing & Permit Committee for a “Class A” liquor license.

Anita Faraone stated that she had no problem with grocery stores selling liquor.  “But,” she stated, “if the Licensing & Permit Committee felt strongly enough about this ordinance to approve it five months ago, then my own personal feeling is to not grant the exception to the ordinance.  Why have the distance exception if we’re not going to enforce it?”

Alderperson Jan Michalski asked which store had been there longer, and the answer was that Pic-n-Save was there longer.  Sperber said that Aldi’s opened up on December 5th, 1996.  Michalski stated that it disturbs him that we would give all but one grocery store the opportunity to sell liquor.

Mayor Keith Bosman stated that he thought that the ordinance was written with Wal-Mart in mind.  Faraone stated that ordinances shouldn’t be written with anyone in mind.  She said that, if we grant an exception for Aldi’s, then we’ll have to grant an exception for Wal-Mart, too.  “Otherwise, that would be a little bit discriminatory in nature.”

Bosman asked Knight what the three criteria were for making a decision.  Knight’s reply was:  1) a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood; 2) a positive influence on the city’s economy; and 3) a compatible overall purpose with the city.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy mentioned several other locations around the city:  Green Bay Road and 75th Street, 60th Street and 39th Avenue, and 52nd Street and 30th Avenue.  He stated that, at each of these locations, there might be two, three, or four establishments selling beer, wine, and liquor.  “This ordinance gives us the chance to have this discussion.  I support Aldi’s.  There are two other grocery stores in the area.  Also, we have Gordon Food Service in Pleasant Prairie, in order to be competitive.”  Kennedy asked Knight if we needed to be concerned with sales volume, and Knight said no.  That would be the Licensing & Permit Committee’s jurisdiction.

Ron Stevens wanted to know what would happen if the exception was granted by both this body and the Common Council, and then Aldi’s’ applied to the Licensing & Permit Committee, and there were no licenses available.  Knight’s reply was:  “If another license is granted in the meantime, and now there are two establishments within a mile, circumstances would then be different.  If the exception is granted with only one other licensee there, then the exception would only apply to that circumstance.  If, at the time the exception is granted, there are more than one establishments, then another exception would be required.”  Stevens stated that this could get quite confusing over time.

As stated earlier, Downing said that the ordinance was not passed with Wal-Mart in mind.  There are currently twenty establishments with “Class A” liquor licenses in the city right now.  The focus was, instead, on the gas stations and convenience stores.  “If every gas station and convenience store had a liquor license in this city, that would not be good.  We are not anti Wal-Mart.  We are protecting the businesses we have.  I am not in support of this exception.  Licenses are limited for a reason.  I was at the Racine Aldi’s today, and there are 26 wine items being offered at that store out of a total of 5,000 items.  What impact on the city will that have?  If a wine license were available, I might say okay to that.  But, not a full liquor license.  I am not supporting this exception.”

Robert Hayden said that he lives within a mile of Aldi’s, and he had no problem with it.  He stated that he didn’t think it would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.  Anderson Lattimore wanted to know if the alderman of the district had been consulted.  Downing said, “Yes, I’m him.”  He is the new alderman of that district as of January 1st.

The request was approved by a roll call vote of 6 to 3.  Dissenting votes came from Downing, Lattimore, and Art Landry.

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In other business conducted at the meeting:

  • The conditional use permit for a contractor’s storage yard to be located at 3700 – 45th Street (Prostko Grading) was denied because parking issues were not resolved with the parties involved.
  • The property at 3501 – 14th Avenue (Sir Arthur’s) was rezoned from M-1 (Light Manufacturing District) to B-2 (Community Business District), for planned restaurant expansion.  The Land Use Map for the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Kenosha: 2035, was also amended.
  • The properties at 5512 and 5602 Green Bay Road were rezoned from RS-1 (Single-Family Residential District) to B-2 (Community Business District).  Property owners are currently running a business out of their homes there.  The Land Use Map was also amended.  Staff recommended changing the whole section to a community business district.
  • The annual report on “A Comprehensive Plan for the City of Kenosha:  2035” was received and filed.

 

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