Tag Archives: Kevin Schmidt

Schmidt’s wins approval for earlier hours

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved an ordinance to allow Schmidt’s Towne Tap on Main Street in Elburn to open for business and serve alcohol inside and in its outdoor garden beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29. The regular hours for serving alcohol on Sunday are 11 a.m.

Owner Kevin Schmidt requested the one-day approval so that Schmidt’s can have a tailgate event prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The game will begin at noon.

Board allows video gaming in Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustee Ken Anderson’s question to his fellow board members, “How does this (video gambling) improve the quality of life in Elburn?” went unanswered on Monday evening.

Instead, the board voted 5-1 to approve an ordinance allowing video gaming machines in Elburn establishments that serve liquor.

Village Board members Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter had joined Anderson in 2009 in voting for a ban on video gaming. However, Walter, who said two business owners in town had recently approached him about revisiting the ban, brought video gaming before the board again last month.

“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said at the time. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”

Blackberry Bar & Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three video gaming machines last fall after Kane County reversed its ban on video gaming. Two more machines were delivered on Feb. 20 for a total of five altogether, the maximum allowed.
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The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality (or in the case of an unincorporated area, the county) receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.

Anderson had said he was concerned about the message that allowing the machines in town would send, as well as enabling people to gamble away money they could not afford to lose.

However, trustee Dave Gualdoni and Village President Dave Anderson said they didn’t feel they should dictate to others how to live their lives. In addition, Dave Anderson said that if people didn’t gamble in Elburn, the opportunity exists four miles down the road.

Grabarek said he had received phone calls and emails from residents asking him why he had decided to reverse his earlier stance on the machines, and stated that he didn’t want to hurt the businesses in town. He said he would like to see how it goes, and that the village could hold a referendum in a couple of years if the board members thought the issue needed to be looked at again.

Trustees Jerry Schmidt, Ethan Hastert, Walter, Grabarek and Gualdoni voted in favor of the video gaming ordinance.

Tavern owners who have a liquor license may apply for a video gaming license through the Illinois Gaming Board. Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt—trustee Schmidt’s son—and Knucklehead’s owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would apply for the license.

The Elburn Lions Club initially considered applying for a license, but ultimately decided not to pursue it.

Video gaming vote postponed

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday put off voting on the video gaming issue, due to the absence of two trustees. Jerry Schmidt was on vacation, and Ethan Hastert was called out of town for work.

Elburn resident Al Herra still had some feedback for the board on the issue.

“Before you vote on this, you should think about who wins,” Herra said. “It’s not the community that wins.”

Herra said that the people who lose their money at video gaming end up not having it to spend at other businesses. Calling it a redistribution of the money in town, he said that the only winners are the state of Illinois and the bar with the machines.

The Village Board first considered video gaming in 2009, when trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn. Although Walter was in favor of the ban at that time, he said that since then, the state has clarified the rules for how it would work.

In addition, Kane County has since reversed its ban, allowing the Blackberry Bar & Grill south of town to install machines last fall. Some of the trustees said they were concerned that Elburn’s dollars would be spent outside of town, including places such as the bar and grill.

Blackberry Bar & Grill owner Pam Moutray said she has been pleased with the results since they installed the machines. They had three put in last fall, and recently added two more, for the five machine maximum.

Moutray stated that she knows some people have concerns that the machines will attract “seedy” people, but said that has “absolutely not been the case.”

“We have husbands and wives who come in together, and they are happy to have some place to go,” she said. “They’re happy to have a neighborhood place to spend their money.”

Moutray said she is also pleased with the revenues the machines are bringing in.

“Our cut has met our expectations and then some,” she said.

The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenue.

Sugar Grove has also lifted its ban, but will hold a citizen referendum on the issue in the spring. The referendum is non-binding and advisory, which means the board is not required to change anything, based on the results of the vote.

Elburn resident Fred Houdek also had some feedback for the board on video gaming, and said he feels that bringing video gaming to Elburn doesn’t really fit with the values of the Elburn residents, and that it “sends the wrong message.”

“I don’t think we’re the ones that are going to profit,” he said.

Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knuckleheads Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would install the machines in their bars. Although the Elburn Lions Club initially considered video gaming at its facility, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had ultimately decided against it.

Anderson did not say when the video gaming issue would be brought before the board.

Village Board to vote on video gaming March 4

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board is working out the details of the video gaming ordinance that would allow video gambling machines in places that serve liquor within the village of Elburn. Trustee Ken Anderson said he is still opposed to it.

“I’ve been pretty clear about my opinion about this ordinance,” Anderson said. “I’m not in agreement with bringing these machines into our town.”

Anderson said he does not believe that allowing this type of activity in town is conducive to the kind of community he wants Elburn to continue to be—family
oriented and community-minded.

Anderson said he understands there is a bill being considered in Springfield, House Bill HB 1306, that would keep the public from knowing the amount of money local residents lose in each establishment providing gambling in their community. Currently, video gambling reports are published each month and posted on the Illinois Gaming Board’s website.

“What they’re proposing is that you would know the county total, and not each establishment,” he said. “Somebody wants to make it so you can’t see what’s going on.”

According to the General Assembly website, HF 1306 “amends the Freedom of Information Act and the Video Gaming Act. (It) prohibits the Illinois Gaming Board from disseminating information relating to video gaming that is specific to individual licensed locations, but allows the dissemination of information that is aggregated based on municipality or county.”

The bill was scheduled for a State Government Administration Committee Hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

When the Village Board considered video gambling in 2009, trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn, with a 4-2 vote. Trustees Anderson, Jeff Walter, Bill Grabarek and former trustee Patricia Romke voted for the ban. Trustee Jerry Schmidt and former trustee Gordon Dierschow voted against it.

Although Grabarek said he does not like the act of gambling itself, he does not want to “injure the businesses in town.” He said the amount of money there is to be made is greater than he had anticipated. Because Kane County allows the machines, the Blackberry Bar & Grill, located on Main Street Road and Route 47 in unincorporated Kane County south of Elburn, was able to install three machines last fall, and put another two in last week.

“Last night (Friday) was a big night for us,” Blackberry Bar & Grill bartender Bob Regan said at lunchtime on Saturday.

According to Regan, people begin coming in to play around 2 p.m. He said he wasn’t surprised that Elburn and other communities were currently considering allowing the machines in their establishments.

“Gotta keep a level playing field,” he said.

The bartender said some people from the Sugar Grove Legion had come in recently to check out the machines. When Regan found out that Sugar Grove was holding a referendum to ask the residents whether or not they wanted video gambling in town, he said he didn’t think it would pass.

“A lot of people don’t want their husbands or wives down here playing,” Regan said. “I know I wouldn’t.”

Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knucklehead’s Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would put the machines in their bars.

Walter said that when he first voted for the ban, the state didn’t have its act together, the rules weren’t published, and there was too much of a gray area.

“It seems like it’s the right time,” Walter said. “I don’t want to penalize our businesses.”

The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues. The state of Illinois receives 30 percent, and the municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s share, or 5 percent of the total revenues, from the state.

The board will vote on the video gaming ordinance on Monday, March 4. Trustee Jerry Schmidt will not be present.

Village Board revisits video gaming ban

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members have decided to revisit the village’s ban on video gaming, which has been in place since September 2009. At that time, village trustee Jerry Schmidt was the only board member in favor of video gaming. Current trustees Bill Grabarek, Ken Anderson and Jeff Walter were against the measure.

Schmidt at the time said that video gambling would be a pro-growth measure, and that it would boost the village budget through the tax revenue it produced.

“If we ban it in Elburn, and they have it in other towns, people are going to go there instead,” he said at the time.

In the three-and-a-half years since the Village Board reached a decision its decision on video gaming, Kane County reversed a ban it had imposed on video gambling, and Blackberry Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three machines last fall. Two more machines were to be delivered to the location as of Wednesday, for a total of five altogether—the maximum number allowed.

Trustee Jeff Walter brought the issue back to the board at a recent meeting, saying that two business owners had approached him about revisiting the ban.

“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”

Knuckleheads owner Betsy Brizek and Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt both have said they are interested in obtaining the licenses to bring machines into their taverns. Although the Elburn Lions Club had considered it awhile ago, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had decided against it.

The Lions Club is more about family and young kids, Klomhaus said. Also, the facility is not open on a daily basis, which would make it less of an option.

Trustee Schmidt is still in favor of allowing video gaming, saying that he wants to do what is best for the village.

The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.

Grabarek said he still has a problem with video gaming in the village, but noted that the village could really use the potential revenues. He said that Blackberry Grill is making $800 a month after three months, and that’s with three machines.

“The revenue (for Elburn) could be substantial,” Grabarek said. “It could be $1,000, $1,500 a month.”

Grabarek on Wednesday said he almost has to bite the bullet and support the measure.

Kane County Board member Drew Frasz said that he doesn’t see it as a revenue producer.

“A dollar spent on video machines is a dollar not spent down the street at the grocery store or other establishments,” he said. “It doesn’t make money; it redistributes it.”

The board will vote on the issue at its meeting on Monday, March 4.

Church parking lot issue remains unresolved

by Cheryl Borrowdale
ELBURN—A parking shortage in downtown Elburn has plagued local businesses and customers since the closure of the Community Congregational Church’s (CCC) 40-space lot on the corner of Shannon and Main streets, and there’s no solution in sight.

The lot, which is owned by the church, was closed last April and put up for sale after being used by the public to park downtown for over 15 years. Nine months later, despite extensive and sometimes acrimonious debate, little progress has been made.

Area businesses have not been able to purchase the lot, and the village has decided not to buy it. Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said that the issue had been so thoroughly canvassed over the past year that there was little left to discuss.

“We represent the taxpayers, and the taxpayers are not going to purchase that lot,” he said. “If we had lots and lots of money, possibly we would be looking at more places to park, but we don’t.”

The parking shortage has affected the bottom line at many downtown businesses. Some of the hardest hit have been downtown Elburn’s bars and restaurants, which attract larger numbers of customers in the evening.

Dick Theobald, owner of Paisano’s Pizza and Grill in downtown Elburn, said that the lack of parking in downtown was driving away potential customers. Paisano’s pick-up business has dropped off as fewer customers come in the door, many of them complaining about the lack of available parking, he said.

“It’s affecting us. It’s huge. It’s such an inconvenience,” Theobald said. “It’s hard to justify whether it’s actually affected the bottom line, but deliveries have been on the increase. In the long run, it costs more to have it delivered.”

Theobald said he understood the village’s position but disagreed with it.

“I don’t think the village is going to budge. They’re not going to buy it. It’s a really tough call,” he said. “I know things are tough, and it’s hard to justify. But in the long run, what hurts the downtown businesses also hurts the village. It’s kind of critical in the long term, and I think it could affect things like tax revenue. If we’re not doing as well as we could, the city isn’t doing as well as it could. In the long run, it affects everybody.”

Joe Smitherman of American Family Insurance said his customers have had to resort to parking in the back, behind the former Elburn Herald office, and that many have complained.

At Ream’s Elburn Market, located just across from the parking lot, business has been less affected. Though Ream’s has relatively few parking spaces of its own, they turn over every 10-15 minutes, which makes it easier to find a space, owner Randy Ream said.

Ream offered to buy the lot from the CCC—the only offer the church has received thus far—last November. Though the church accepted the offer, Ream ultimately withdrew it when he realized he faced zoning issues that increased the expense and the hassle while also restricting his use of the lot.

“I tried to buy it, but the city has a lot of restrictions and regulations, and I’m not really prepared to buy it with those restrictions,” Ream said. “I would have loved to have bought it and put up a nice lit sign.”

Ream wanted to continue using the lot as parking for his customers and for other downtown businesses, yet because the property is zoned B1 and not approved for use as a parking lot, he would have to go through the village’s rezoning process, he said.

The process would require a new owner to apply to the village for a variance to use it as a parking lot, which would have to be passed by the Village Board in an open public meeting, said Elburn Building Commissioner Tom Brennan. To do so, the purchaser would have to put $1,500 into an escrow account to pay for the village attorney’s time, as well as for the cost of reports from outside contractors and engineers.

Ream said that he didn’t have the time to handle rezoning the property during the busy holiday shopping season and that the rezoning would require him to make costly improvements to the lot, such as curbs and drainage.

He also wanted to put up an LED sign to advertise his business on the lot, but because the village has named downtown Elburn a historic sign district, the sizes and types of signs that businesses can use are restricted.

“I really see a big lack of signs in Elburn, especially in the historic sign district,” Ream said. “You look at what Bob Jass has put up—a huge sign, just south of us. I don’t know why we can’t put signs up here. A business without signs is a business without business. Elburn has always wanted some kind of historic district down here, but I don’t think it’s big enough to have a historic district.”

Anderson said that the village’s regulations are typical of any municipality.

“We have our zoning regulations and rules, and as such, depending on what the proposed use is, you have to go through those regulations. If there are variances required, we’d have to have hearings on it. That’s not unusual, no matter what municipality you’re in. In all honesty, none of this is new. It’s not a case where all of a sudden something new has reared its head,” he said.

Though Elburn has been trying to preserve the historic look of the downtown, he said that the board would be willing to consider granting a variance for signs if it would help move the parking issue along.

“I think, in all honesty, this board would be open to anything to see what could be done,” Anderson said.

A group of business owners led by Kevin Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Towne Tap, have discussed banding together to buy the lot, but Ream said that the group didn’t have the money. Several business owners expressed frustration that the lot hadn’t remained open while it was for sale or that a leasing agreement hadn’t been reached.

“I don’t know why (the church) can’t negotiate something with the businesses. They could continue to keep it for sale and, in the meantime, keep the lot open,” Theobald said. “If there’s something we could negotiate, I’m more than willing to pay something.”

Yet, keeping the lot open wasn’t an option for the CCC, church moderator Sharon Lackey said, because of maintenance costs and potential liability issues.

“We decided to close it because the Realtor told us that it would help us sell it, and we had some concerns with safety, as well, because in the wintertime the snow and ice make it a skating rink,” Lackey said.

She said that the CCC had repeatedly asked the village and area businesses for help maintaining and financing the lot, but that no one offered until after the lot was closed.

“We had asked a couple years ago for some assistance maintaining the lot, but we didn’t receive any response. (Since the lot closed,) I’ve heard people say that they would be willing to help. I got a phone call from someone saying that they would bring a load of gravel, but I’m not sure that gravel would make much difference,” Lackey said.

Lackey added that the church had looked into leasing the parking lot to area businesses or potentially putting up parking meters to raise revenue, but that doing so would have put the church’s non-profit status at risk.

“The IRS doesn’t see providing public parking as a proper activity for churches, either, so if we were to do that, we would have to start paying taxes on the property and we would lose our tax-exempt status,” Lackey said. “I know there are some people who think we ought to be providing free parking for the businesses. We would rather be doing things like helping the food pantry, and we would like to serve the community by helping people who need help. We don’t really see providing public parking as something that’s a mission for the church. There are some people in the community who are upset with us, and we feel badly about that, but we are trying to serve the community as a church.”

Though the CCC originally was asking $250,000 for the lot, they have reduced the asking price to $199,900.

Lackey said that the church no longer needs the parking and would like to sell the lot in order to raise enough money for a new elevator. The church has several parishioners who cannot climb the stairs to the church’s sanctuary, and although the church has an elevator that was built by Chuck Conley over 30 years ago, changes in Illinois law have forced them to stop using it.

“We had to shut it down, and there’s no way to get into the sanctuary without using stairs one way or another,” Lackey said. “A commercial elevator is a large expense. We were hoping we could sell the parking lot and get an elevator so that people can get into the sanctuary.”

Dave Royer, a CCC member who has been looking into the issue, said that installing a new elevator that meets ADA requirements will cost the church about $100,000, in addition to the cost of required annual hydraulic checks and biannual inspections.

“We looked into a chair lift, but we cannot use one because we don’t have the clearance required,” he said. “And Bruce Conley pointed out to us that some people would rather crawl up on their hands and knees than be embarrassed by having to use a chair lift. The church’s responsibility is to the church, not to provide free parking to local businesses.”

Ream said the parking issue should ultimately be dealt with by the village rather than by private business owners or the church.

“If an individual buys it, they do have control over it, but I know a lot of customers from Napa Auto and the Kountry Kettle and the bars will be there,” he said. “You’ll be supplying parking for the downtown area. Isn’t that the role of the village? You’d have to put in curbs and do snow plowing. Batavia supplies town parking. Geneva supplies town parking. Elburn should supply town parking.”

Anderson disagreed, saying that the village provides on-street parking already, and if businesses needed more, they ought to provide it.

“If you’re going to open a business, it’s your responsibility to provide parking for that business. That’s not just Elburn, it’s everywhere,” he said. “In downtown Geneva, basically, the only lots that they have that the city owns are the ones by the train station. They have the on-street parking obviously, but everything else downtown are privately owned lots.”

Anderson pointed out that the village improved its parking lot on the corner of First and North streets last summer, adding curbstops and sidewalks, expanding the number of spaces and adding handicapped spots. The village also provides 15-minute on-street parking by Paisano’s so that pickup customers “don’t have to drive all over the place,” he said.

Smitherman said that it was time for the parties to come together and compromise.

“I understand where the church is coming from, where it’s a designated church parking lot. But it would be nice if the community could band together, because right now there are parking issues,” Smitherman said. “There’s a throttle on how many people can be downtown at any given time now. Both parties are going to have to compromise to find a solution.”

It was green for miles …

The Elburn Chamber of Commerce held its annual golf outing at Hughes Creek on Thursday. The Chamber raises money at this annual event to bring more activities to the Village of Elburn. Dane Male (right) of American Bank & Trust executes a chip shot onto the 9th green with Matt Hadfiel of Mosquito Authority, Dan Murphy of Edward Jones and Patrick Boehler of American Bank & Trust looking on. Photos by Patti Wilk

Cary Gillis and Kevin Schmidt of Schmidt’s Towne Tap (right) getting ready to head out for a day of golf.

Dave Stevens and Rick Russell
of Russell Automotive (right)
enjoy a good laugh before they
head out to their first hole.

Joe Howard of AAA Insurance practicing putting before the noon start.

Dick Theobald of Paisano’s Pizza and Grill tees off at the 1st hole.

Village discusses downtown parking lot

by David Maas
ELBURN—With the impending closure of the Community Congregational Church parking lot on the corner of Shannon Street and Route 47 in Elburn, local businesses are looking to the village to help them out. While the church’s asking price for the lot is $250,000, the village doesn’t have the money to take on the burden themselves.

During the week, Village Administrator Erin Willrett invited business owners from downtown Elburn to meet with her regarding the issue, and then reported to the trustees at Monday’s meeting.

“The business owners are really invested and care about what’s going on,” Willrett said. “The majority want something to be done; some of them want the village to purchase it.”

The village, however, can’t outright buy it, so they discussed other ways.

“The only bond we could go for with this would be a General Obligation bond,” Village President David Anderson said.

Going with a General Obligation bond would also prove to have its problems, such as the need to go to a referendum.

“My concerns with a G.O. bond is the timing,” trustee Jeffrey Walter said. “It’s a long and drawn-out process to put something out to vote, which could still be voted down. We could essentially be waiting eight months for a ‘no.’”

Another option is a Special Service Area (SSA), wherein the business would get taxed.

“Every business has a different profit margin. Some can’t afford to take that risk,” Willrett said

Additionally, if the lot is paid off, the village would own it and have the right to sell it for a profit.

“If the SSA were just on us, I’m not sure we would go for that,” said Kevin Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Towne Tap. “If it was a joint project with the village, I think the businesses would go for that.”

There was some talk that a joint SSA, or something similar, could be a step in the right direction.

“If we start an SSA agreement, we could say something like we couldn’t sell the lot without offering a replacement,” Walter said. “I think being creative on the agreement would be a good thing to look into.”

While the village will still be looking at various options, the board was in agreement that the process needs to be started.

“We need to start somewhere,” trustee Jerry Schmidt said. “We should get the lot appraised, and work from there.”

While some trustees didn’t think the appraisal bill should fall to them—a $500-$700 bill—individuals stated they would pay for it, including Kevin, and trustee Ethan Hastert.

“It’s a starting point,” Kevin said. “We will try to work with the church after that. If it doesn’t work out, at least we tried.”

“We want to have a bond with our downtown area,” Walter said. “We can’t sit here and do nothing, but we have to do this smartly.”

In the meantime, it is important to remember there are other parking areas near downtown, village officials said.

“There are other lots; they just aren’t as convenient,” Anderson said.

The village also stated they are looking toward the future for new parking lots that could one day be established, which could happen if someone were to buy the lot from the village in the future.

“It’s just important in a situation like this to remember that no one is the good guy, and no one is the bad guy,” Anderson said. “It’s just no one has any money.”

‘Where is everybody going to park?’

Church’s plan to close parking lot stirs business owners into action
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—For anybody coming through Elburn on a given day, it’s noticeable that the downtown is experiencing a boon. The streets are lined with parked cars, and the lot on the corner of Shannon and Main Streets is nearly full. The merchants couldn’t be happier with the rise in the number of customers coming to their establishments. But when the church that owns the property announced its decision to close the lot to public parking, effective March 15, downtown business owners knew that something needed to be done-and fast—to continue to provide convenient parking for their patrons. They got together on Monday afternoon, talked the problem over and attended the Elburn village meeting that evening to ask the village for help.

“When the merchants met, I asked, ‘Where’s everybody going to park?’” Business owner Kevin Schmidt said. “We’ve got a good downtown going. We feel the village needs to buy the lot.”

Other business owners reiterated the uptick in business that Elburn is experiencing.

“Elburn used to look like a ghost town,” Wiley Overly said. “Now we’re starting to get out-of-town money. We’re getting local money. There are a lot of jobs downtown. We’re on the cusp of something very good right now. It (closing the lot) could be fatal to what’s going on, and when it’s gone, there’s no replacing it.”

Elburn Herald owner and editor Ryan Wells commented that closing the lot would create a chain reaction.

“We would have to park in potential customers’ spots. The only spots they’d have would be taken up by employees who hope to have their business,” Wells said. “It’s our consensus that the village needs to get involved in some shape or form.”

Schmidt said that if the 40-space lot closes, that leaves 30 spaces on the street and a parking lot behind his business that he owns. The other lots are farther than most people will want to walk. Village President Dave Anderson countered by saying that people walk farther than that to shop at Geneva Commons.

Anderson made it clear that the village doesn’t have money to purchase the lot. According to Church Moderator Sharon Lackey, both the village and the Chamber of Commerce turned down their offer to sell them the property several months ago.

“We don’t have the funds. It’s pretty hard to justify to the taxpayers of Elburn to buy a parking lot. I know how critical parking is, but it’s private property,” Anderson said. “If the Village Board decides to do it, that’s fine, but I think it’s a mistake. Is it the taxpayers’ responsibility to provide parking for businesses?”

Trustee Jeff Walter suggested that the village use its resources to lead the movement to keep the lot open and provide some direction toward a solution that both parties could agree to.

Several people offered possible solutions, such as checking into grants and redevelopment or financial vehicles, a lease-to-own option while charging patrons to park, and a land swap with the village.

“There are a million different options involving the chamber and the businesses. We’re not ready for solutions yet. We need to put direction and structure around it,” Walter said.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett volunteered to coordinate a public meeting between the business owners and the church to talk about what could be done to keep the lot open.

“We all agree that having downtown parking is important,” Wells said. “We’re seeking engagement and acknowledgement that the Village is concerned.”

‘O’ is for outdoor

Proposed ordinance would help outdoor liquor sales
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board discussed the creation of a Class O liquor license that would regulate outdoor retail liquor sales at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday. In response to Kevin Schmidt’s inquiries as to how to go about creating an outdoor extension to his business in downtown Elburn, Schmidt’s, Village Administrator Erin Willrett compiled an ordinance that follows closely those of St. Charles’ and Geneva’s, called a Class O license.

The Class O ordinance is not a beer garden permit such as those obtained by the Lion’s Club for Elburn Days. This would be an outdoor permit for liquor sales year round or as long as weather permits. It calls for the licensee to obtain a license and be in good standing. It also does not increase any of the privileges associated with that license.

The hours to dispense liquor would be the same as the current Class A license hours: noon to 1 a.m. on Sunday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. from Monday to Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The noise provision of the ordinance differs from the current village of Elburn noise ordinance that requires outdoor sound amplification to end at 7 p.m. Amplified sound under the Class O ordinance would be allowed from noon to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in the outdoor location only, not inside the bar.

The outdoor location must be cordoned off by a fence that is not less than 4-feet high and not more than 6-feet high with entrances and exit points for patrons. Each entry point must be manned by an agent of the business identifying persons under the age of twenty-one.

If passed at the Village Board meeting on June 20, this ordinance would potentially replace beer garden permits used in the past.

‘Doc Hall’ building razed

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Drive through downtown Elburn, and you may notice something missing. An empty lot sits where the two-story building on the east corner of North and Main was demolished Monday. The building was owned by a long-time veterinarian in Elburn known as “Doc Hall,” who moved in 1979. The building sat vacant for several years. Recently, Hall passed away, and his estate put the building up for sale.

Elburn Building and Zoning Enforcement Officer Jim Stran said that the building was not in good repair. It was over 100 years old and had only surface repairs done to it at the request of the village in 2008.

“We’ve had a number of people who contacted the village to see about developing it, but when they got inside, they could see that it was not cost-effective to bring the building into compliance,” Stran said.

Stran said that Kevin Schmidt purchased the building and has done all the testing for asbestos removal and air sampling that were required. Stran said he believes the owner will fill in the hole created by the foundation.

Schmidt could not be reached for comment about what he intends to do with the downtown lot.

Photos: Standing for over 100 years, the old “Doc Hall” building, located on the corner of Route 47 and North Street in downtown Elburn, was torn down Monday, with cleanup on the property continuing through the week. Photos by Mary Herra and Ben Draper

Businesses ask for expanded liquor-sales hours

[quote]by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Two Elburn business operators want the village to expand the number of hours they can sell alcohol under the current municipal liquor code.

Kevin Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Towne Tap in downtown Elburn, asked the Village Board on Monday for permission to open his bar at 11 a.m. on Sunday instead of at noon as currently allowed under his Class A liquor license.

Currently, restaurants, clubs and taverns may not sell alcohol on Sundays until noon. However, liquor stores in the village may sell packaged liquor starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Schmidt said since the village allows liquor stores to sell alcohol Sunday morning, bars should have the same privilege.

“I want to be able to open the doors (of Schmidt’s, a sports bar) at 11 a.m., for the pre-game shows,” Schmidt said.

Also on Monday, Hughes Creek Golf Club manager Heather Espe requested that the village allow clubs that hold a Class F liquor license, including Hughes, to begin selling alcohol at 9 a.m. on weekdays and at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“We have golfers who want a beer or a bloody Mary at the (course) turn,” Espe said. “It would be a nice added bonus for us, since our competitors (Bliss Creek Golf and Tanna Farms golf clubs) can do it.”

Trustee Jerry Schmidt said he supports both the proposed Class F and Class A liquor code changes.

“I think it’s good for Elburn,” Schmidt said.

Trustees Gordon Dierschow and Patricia Romke also said they support allowing the earlier liquor sales.

If the Village Board approves the Class F and Class A ordinance changes, all businesses in the village that hold those liquor licenses would be affected, not just Schmidt’s and Hughes Creek.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said he is hesitant about permanently allowing the sale of liquor at bars before noon on Sunday, as opposed to just permitting a temporary variance during football season.

Grabarek said that before the board votes on the proposed liquor-code change for Class A licenses, he wants to gauge community sentiment about the issue.

“Do they really want the bars to open at 11 a.m. (Sunday)?” Grabarek asked.

The Village Board possibly will vote on the proposed changes on Monday, Aug. 2.

Liquor stores in Elburn, which hold Class C liquor licenses, would not be affected by either proposed liquor-code change.

Special-use permits issued for new tavern

ELBURN—Kevin Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Towne Tap, was granted three special uses he applied for recently for the bar and restaurant he opened last December at 107 N. Main St., Elburn.

The special uses, approved by the Village Board on Monday, will allow Schmidt to operate the tavern, to serve alcoholic beverages in conjunction with a restaurant and to offer live entertainment.

Village officials did not require Schmidt to apply for the first two special uses before they allowed him to open in December, although the village code required it under the B-1 zoning ordinance. Village Administrator Erin Willrett said it was an oversight on the part of village staff and the Village Board.

Village President sells building after buyer receives liquor license

Liquor code change allowed for indirect interest in the business
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson sold his building at 107 N. Main St. on July 23 to Kevin Schmidt, three days after Schmidt obtained a village liquor license for the site, Village Attorney Bob Britz said.

Anderson said it was under contract for the previous two months, and under negotiation since February. Schmidt said he would not buy the building unless the village granted him a Class A liquor license for the site, so that he could open a tavern there.

Schmidt applied for the liquor license on May 13, a few days after Dave Anderson took the oath of office as the new village president.

A May 19 letter drafted by Schmidt’s attorney stated that Dave Anderson and Kevin Schmidt had reached an agreement for the purchase of the property, but that one term of the agreement between the parties was that the sale was contingent upon Schmidt being approved for a local liquor license.

On June 15, village trustees created a new available Class A liquor license but Schmidt was not granted a Class A license until July 20.

The village liquor code stated that a liquor license could not be issued to a business in which the village president or a village trustee had any direct or indirect interest.

Britz told village officials June 15 that removing the word “indirect” from the local liquor code first would need to take place, so that the local code matched the state liquor code, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said Tuesday.

The state, however, did not require the removal of the word “indirect” from Elburn’s liquor code. In addition, the village has approved other liquor licenses without changing its liquor code wording.

Britz, while he has been village attorney for Elburn, also has served as Anderson’s private counsel on legal matters including real estate transactions.

Britz and village staff then drafted an ordinance for the wording change, which trustees unanimously approved July 20. Trustee Bill Grabarek, as Deputy Liquor Commissioner, granted a Class A liquor license to Schmidt directly after the July 20 meeting, Britz said.

“I thought that with the word ‘indirect’ still in, there would have been a potential issue,” Grabarek said Wednesday. “The issue was that because the mayor (Dave Anderson) owned the building, basically we needed to knock out the word ‘indirect,’ to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

The license Grabarek granted Schmidt was one of two available Class A licenses, another of which the board approved earlier that evening, July 20.

Updated 7/24: Code change allows liquor license for space village president owns

updated 7/24/2009 at 2:11 p.m. CST
Village president said in July 23 email building was under contract, now sold (not rented)
Trustee’s son’s application granted, 2 others pending
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board changed an ordinance on Monday to allow a liquor license to be issued for a new tavern in a building, at 107 N. Main St., that was owned by Village President Dave Anderson, even if he has an indirect interest in the business.

“Good common sense says everyone in the village has an indirect interest in the business,” Anderson said Wednesday.

The previous ordinance would have prohibited a liquor license for a business in which Anderson or any village trustee had direct or indirect interest. The change approved by village trustees Monday removed the reference to indirect interest. Anderson said the language change in the village liquor code mirrors the wording in the state’s liquor code. Anderson said he does not have a direct interest in the tavern business planned for the space he said July 23 he sold to Kevin Schmidt.

Anderson sold the building Thursday, July 23 to Kevin Schmidt, attorney Bob Britz said.

Also on Monday, the Village Board approved two ordinances allowing for the establishment of three new liquor licenses in the village, but not granting them to applicants.

After the board meeting closed, Deputy Liquor Commissioner and trustee Bill Grabarek approved an application for one of the licenses, for Schmidt’s bar, Village Attorney Bob Britz said. The license will allow the bar to sell beer, wine and hard liquor.

Applicants for the other two liquor licenses are Michael Rafferty, for the Riley Boys Tavern planned for the former Emma’s Pub at 117 Main, and Rosati’s—for a new restaurant space near Jewel-Osco at Route 47 and Route 38. Rafferty is seeking a license to sell beer, wine and hard liquor, and Rosati’s is seeking a license to serve beer and wine.

Rosati’s and Rafferty still must sign the letter of understanding with the village before Liquor Commissioner Dave Anderson can grant them the other new liquor licenses, village officials said.

Kevin Schmidt’s father, trustee Jerry Schmidt, voted during the July 20 Elburn Village Board meeting for an ordinance allowing for a liquor code language change, and for an ordinance creating a second available Class A liquor license, one of which was obtained by his son after the meeting. Trustee Jerry Schmidt said Wednesday that he did not believe voting for the ordinances on July 20 was a conflict of interest. Schmidt had recused himself from voting for the creation of one of the two Class A licenses in June. Those licenses are not assigned to any business at the time they are created. The license is granted to the applicant only when the liquor commissioner approves the application and assigns the license.

“I didn’t think it was. I want to support my son in this project, but I have no interest in the business,” trustee Schmidt said.

He added that during his campaign before being elected in April, he was a proponent of bringing new businesses to the village to boost tax revenue.

Village establishes a second Class A liquor license

Officials with conflicts of interest did not vote Monday
by Martha Quetsch
The Elburn Village Board established a second Class A liquor license Monday following Kevin Schmidt’s recent application for that type of license for a bar at 107 N. Main St.

A Class A license permits a bar to sell liquor for consumption on site and packaged liquor.

Schmidt said he wants to obtain the liquor license before proceeding with the plan for his business. His application requires approval by the Liquor Commissioner and Village Board.

Just before the discussion and vote on the matter, Village President and Liquor Commissioner Dave Anderson appointed, with Village Board consent, a Deputy Liquor Control Commissioner, trustee Bill Grabarek.

Anderson appointed Grabarek and did not take part in the discussion and vote regarding increasing the number of Class A licenses because he owns the property where Schmidt wants to open the business.

“I will be excusing myself because of conflict of interest,” Anderson said.

For the same reason, trustee Jerry Schmidt, Kevin Schmidt’s father, also excused himself from the discussion and vote about the second Class A license.

Grabarek and the board agreed to make the new license available through an ordinance it approved Monday. They are expected to decide in the near future whether to grant the license to Schmidt.

The village previously had one Class A license, held by Knucklehead’s Tavern. Elburn reduced the number of available Class A licenses from two after Emma’s Pub & Cantina closed in 2008; Emma’s shut down after the village called a hearing in 2008 to suspend the business’ liquor license because of illegal gambling on the premises.

Attorney will review regulations
Kevin Schmidt asked village officials whether under the Class A liquor license he is seeking for a bar in Elburn, children may eat there even if liquor sales exceed food sales, he said.

Officials at the Elburn Village Board meeting Monday were not certain if it is allowed under the current municipal liquor ordinance. So Village Attorney Bob Britz said he will study the ordinance to make that determination.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he hopes children are allowed in establishments like the one Schmidt plans.

“It’s a big point right now, having restaurants where we can take our families,” Walter said.

Schmidt wants to open the bar at 107 N. Main St.

3 new liquor licenses requested

New pubs, Rosati’s want to sell alcohol
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Three Elburn businesses, including Rosati’s and two pubs that could open downtown this summer, asked the village for liquor licenses.

One petitioner, Kevin Schmidt, plans to open a sports bar and grill at the former The Grocery Store site at 107 N. Main St. He said it would have tables for eating and nearly 30 seats at the bar.

During the Public Safety Committee meeting Monday, Schmidt asked if the village would waive its requirement that a business be primarily a restaurant, rather than a bar, to sell liquor while allowing children to eat there.

“I would think you could make an exception, so that kids with parents could eat at the tables. Otherwise you could have some angry citizens in Elburn,” Schmidt said.

The village allows Papa G’s to sell liquor in its restaurant, which has many families with children as customers, because the majority of its sales come from food, Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said.

Michael Rafferty is remodeling the former Emma’s restaurant space at 117 Main St., where he intends to open an Irish pub and restaurant in August. He is seeking a license to sell beer, wine and spirits.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said they could petition the village separately for permission to have children in a business whose sales are mostly from alcohol.

Rosati’s owner A.J. Hussein plans to move his carryout business at 107 Valley Drive in two months to a larger site in the Jewel complex across the street. He wants to sell beer and wine in the new dine-in eatery.

The Village Board will decide whether to grant the liquor licenses after reviewing an ordinance drafted by staff allowing for the new licenses.