The St. Charles City Council on Monday signaled an openness to the idea of a drive-up window at a St. Charles liquor store.
In a committee meeting, council members voted 6-4 to direct city staff to draft an ordinance that would allow a drive-up window at a new express location at Lundeen Discount Liquors, 1315 Main St., operated by David and Julie Lundeen. Current city code prohibits it.
The Lundeens have two liquor stores in St. Charles, one in DeKalb and one in Sycamore, which has had a drive-up window for nine years.
"We are striving to evolve our business to meet current economic times," said Julie Lundeen, who came with 600 signatures of customers who support the change.
"Why can't we give them a service they want?" she asked.
The four "no" votes were From Aldermen Jim Martin, Jo Krieger, Rita Payleitner and Maureen Lewis.
Lewis and Payleitner, both members on the newly formed city Liquor Commission, said they have been opposed since first hearing the proposal at a September commission hearing. Both said they had received several emails from residents opposed to the idea.
With the city's recent efforts to combat alcohol-related problems at its bars downtown, the timing is not right to make the city's code more lenient to alcohol, Payleitner said.
"I'm not convinced we need additional convenience to purchase a controlled substance," Payleitner said. "I don't see it for our town."
Aldermen also noted that they would be the only city in the Tri-Cities area to allow such a service. They stressed repeatedly that concerns had nothing to do with the Lundeens, whose longtime business had not been associated with any of the downtown bar issues.
Alderman William Turner said he doesn't see the difference between buying alcohol in a car or through a window.
"The reality is the same," Turner said. "It winds up in the car. It's still in the car. If you want to go with image, that's fine. But the reality is that ends up in the car."
The city has checked with the Sycamore location, which does about 17 to 35 percent of its business through the drive-up window, Dave Lundeen said. The Sycamore police chief has reported no issues with the store, said Mayor Ray Rogina, who supports the window.
Staff will draft an ordinance that would allow drive-up windows and bring it back to the council. Because of the location of the store, the owners also must request that the city amend the zoning, which currently prohibits a drive-through window on a parcel smaller than one acre. The store property is about half an acre.