Saturday, December 9, 2023

Connect with us:

Lansing Village Board discusses facade program changes, liquor licensing timeline

LANSING, Ill. (October 5, 2023) – The October 3 Lansing Village Board Committee of the Whole meeting included discussions about changing requirements for the facade program, as well as liquor licensing timelines.

Facade program

Village Administrator Dan Podgorski invited Village Trustees to share thoughts about the current facade program, with specific focus given to the idea of adding additional regulations or requirements for program applicants.

The facade program allows local businesses to receive partial financial reimbursement from the Village for exterior improvements to their buildings. Podgorski said recent applications for the program have generated questions about if some additional regulations are needed, in particular, if the facade program should apply to businesses looking to only upgrade their signage.

Trustee Saad Abbasy said he thought it might be wise to consider a “tiered program” that would allow the Village to provide a different level of assistance based on whether or not the business was a sales-tax-producing business.

Trustee Saad Abbasy. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

To weed out signage-only requests, Abbasy asked, “Could we put a minimum dollar spend before being eligible to have reimbursable expenses?”

Trustee Leo Valencia said he preferred the idea of a minimum spend over the idea of awarding different amounts based on sales-tax-producing businesses.

Trustee Leo Valencia. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Trustee Smith said a “criteria of need” should be met to make sure the request isn’t “just a want.” She added that the building department could be involved in that determination. Abbasy suggested a minimum dollar spend might achieve that criteria indirectly.

Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich asked if Village facade dollars could be transferred if a new owner took over an existing business.

Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Podgorski explained provisions are in place if a business were to close, but said, “If somebody sold the business but the business remained, I don’t know, I guess we’d have to talk that through.”

Trustee Brian Hardy expressed his feelings that if a business changed hands, the facade improvement money should not transfer automatically to the new owner.

Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust said the issue is challenging to discuss in detail in a group setting like the Committee of the Whole meeting, but that he did support a minimum spend criteria for facade reimbursement to “make it clear that we’re looking for something a little more than a sign.”

After further discussion, Podgorski thanked the trustees for their suggestions and said village administration would bring a recommendation to an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.

Liquor licensing

Immediately following the facade discussion, Podgorski introduced a hitch in the timing of the liquor license application process.

Podgorksi, referencing Village Code, said, “If the license isn’t issued in 90 days, then the license should be cancelled.”

“Just based on what’s typically happening in instances where there is the rehabilitation of a structure, 90 days is probably not reasonable for some applicants to finish their construction work,” he said.

Podgorski said businesses want the assurance that they’ll be able to have a liquor license before starting construction or rehabilitation, and 90 days sometimes isn’t enough time for larger projects to finish.

“I completely understand not letting a license sit out there indefinitely. If somebody was awarded a license and then they go away and are not showing any demonstrable progress toward opening a business, then absolutely their license should be cancelled and they should have to start [the liquor license application process] over,” he said, and asked the trustees to consider solutions to make the process easier for both the Village and a petitioner that is actively working towards opening their business.

“To me, [extending a liquor license timeframe] shouldn’t have to be a board issue,” Podgorski said, “It doesn’t matter to me who reviews it, whether it’s the liquor commissioner or the entire Board of Trustees. … It just seems like we should be able to pivot more easily on this issue because of construction delays.”

Village Attorney Matt Welch explained that the current 90 days expiration is designed to protect the Village so that unissued licenses doesn’t exist long-term. He said a liquor license that is created and not issued presents a liability for Lansing.

Village Attorney Matt Welch. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

“Whatever we do, we need to maintain that protection,” Welch said.

He suggested a provision in the code indicating that a liquor license wouldn’t take effect until a business license is issued, a step that takes place much later in the process.

Podgorski said such a provision would be “great,” and after the Board affirmed Welch’s idea, Podgorski told Welch they would “work on something together” to propose a policy change to the Board.

About Board meetings

Lansing Committee of the Whole meetings immediately follow regular Board meetings, which start at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Committee of the Whole meetings give trustees opportunities to discuss Village business before ultimately voting on issues at the regular meeting, two weeks later.

Need an introduction to Lansing Village Board meetings? We’ve got you covered:


Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.