WINNETKA – The Winnetka Village Council on April 3 approved the expansion of a Winnetka Community House parking lot and introduced an amendment to the liquor ordinance that would allow Walgreen’s to sell alcohol.
Parking Lot Expansion
The Winnetka Community House plans to demolish the existing Champion House building on Lincoln Avenue to make way for six additional parking spaces that would serve Community House employees and visitors. The change would increase the current parking lot from 20 to 26 spaces.
At the moment, the Community House is in the midst of creating a new strategic plan for its facilities and operations and does not yet have a long term plan for the parking lot. As such, the proposed expansion would include an asphalt layer over gravel that has approximately a five to 7 year life span.
While all three recommending boards approved the parking lot expansion, the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals predicated their approval on a special use permit expiring after 7 years. This condition was based on the low durability of the parking lot material.
But the village trustees questioned why the village should require the Community House to go through the entire special use permitting process in 7 years, should it decide to continue using the lot for parking. Trustee Andrew Cripe suggested instead, the village include verbiage that the Community House maintain the parking lot.
Bob Thomas, executive director of the Community House, told the council that as a nonprofit the organization opted for a less costly material for the parking lot, since a long term strategic plan for the lot was not in place. He reassured the trustees that the Community House would continue to be a good neighbor and maintain the property.
Trustee Penny Lanphier suggested that the Community House be required to seek approval from just the council in 7 years (eliminating review of the three recommending boards), but ultimately the village council members concluded that since the Community House has remained a strong contributor to the community and maintained its property, this issue did not requiring revisiting in 7 years.
“We have an organization that is a strong community member and I think their intent is not only to maintain their property in a high quality manner, but also to be thinking strategically about this,” Trustee Scott Myers said.
The village council voted unanimously to grant the Community House a special use permit to expand the parking lot.
Liquor Code Amendment
The village trustees considered an amendment to the liquor code to accommodate a new Walgreens pharmacy that would like to sell alcohol. The pharmacy will be located in the former Mrs. Green’s Neighborhood Market storefront in Hubbard Woods.
Trustees Penny Lanphier and Bob Dearborn expressed concern that the amendment as drafted was too broad, and could potentially apply to stores the village did not intend to grant liquor licenses to, such as stand alone pharmacies. To address those concerns, Village Attorney Peter Friedman drafted a new amendment, that would narrowly address Walgreens, in that it operates as part of a larger retail establishment, but not include stand alone pharmacies. Friedman also noted that the village council has no obligation to grant liquor licenses.
“If a stand alone pharmacy came along, you have full discretion to say you are not like Walgreens and not grant a liquor license,” Friedman noted.
The trustees unanimously approved the introduction of the amended ordinance, which is slated for approval at the next village council meeting.