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SOUTH-CENTRAL : 4 Liquor Stores Face New Rules

February 07, 1993|ELSTON CARR

The city Planning Commission is expected to approve the rebuilding of four liquor outlets destroyed in last spring's rioting, but with restrictions aimed at reducing crime.

City planners have proposed that the stores curtail their hours, hire licensed security guards and improve lighting. Community activists, however, remain opposed to the reopening of the stores.

"We are going to protest these stores even if the Planning Commission approves their reconstruction," said Karen Bass, executive director of the Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. "We know the restrictions aren't going to work in the case of the problem stores."

The Planning Commission will vote on the four stores Feb. 18. Residents can give statements at the public hearing before the vote. The hearing will start at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.

The four stores seeking permission to rebuild are:

* Bloom's Liquor at 3905 S. Normandie Ave.,

* Finley's Liquor at 5022 S. Western Ave.,

* AM/PM mini-market at 4400 S. Broadway,

* AM/PM mini-market at 504 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Representatives of liquor store operators said requiring shorter hours and full-time licensed security guards will cause a financial burden for merchants recovering from riot losses.

"It is unfair to impose these restrictions on people who have lost property as result of the riots," said John Williams, who represents David Paek of Bloom's Liquor. "It puts them at an unfair disadvantage with those stores that were not damaged by the riot."

Jerome Buckmelter, a planning consultant representing the owners of Finley's Liquor, said liquor retailers are being used as scapegoats: "People are attacking liquor outlets since they are tangible surrogates for the real problems (society faces.)"

Eric Ritter, a city planning examiner, said the restrictions are intended to curb crimes associated with the stores including "loitering, public drinking and drunkenness, prostitution, assaults, drug dealing, parking, and traffic congestion."

In the case of Bloom's Liquor, Ritter said the Police Department has reported that calls for service to the area around the store have dropped 20% since it was destroyed.

To date, the Planning Commission has approved all requests to rebuild liquor outlets destroyed in the riots.

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