The village council voted on Monday evening to pass an ordinance preventing liquor stores in town from obstructing their windows with excessive signs, shelves, boxes or other obstacles that block visibility into the store.
The ordinance will match the requirement for liquor stores with requirements already in place for taverns. According to a recommendation from Village Administrator Michael Sturino, “police department records have established a higher incidence of criminal activity in those establishments not currently regulated.”
The ordinance passed by the council requires that liquor retailers maintain “a full view of the entire interior of such premises from the street, road or sidewalk.”
It gives Mayor Anthony Calderone, the village’s liquor commissioner, the authority to require the filing of plans showing that a store will comply with the requirement.
According to Village Attorney Michael Durkin, the village will be able to issue separate citations for each day that any store violates the new requirement, and continued violations could result in charges being brought before Calderone seeking fines or the suspension or revocation of liquor licenses.
The idea of taking a tougher stance against obstructed liquor store windows was first brought up by the village’s Business Improvement District (BID) Committee, which in the process of reviewing the village’s sign ordinance for the downtown area noted that temporary signs in liquor store windows often create both an eyesore and a safety threat.
Committee members agreed that a clear view into liquor stores would allow more effective policing and discourage potential armed robbers from drawing weapons. They also felt that some liquor store displays, which often include stacked boxes and other unsightly elements, went against the “upscale” feel that the village was seeking to create for its downtown area.
According to current village code, signs are not permitted to take up any more than 50 percent of a business’ windows, though some liquor stores in town visibly violate this provision on a regular basis. Before Monday’s ordinance, the village code did not explicitly state that liquor stores must ensure visibility from outside.
Sturino’s recommendation notes that adding new restrictions in this area to the village’s code was a last resort. “Prior to presenting this proposed code amendment, staff attempted to reach out to liquor store establishments to create a voluntary program in which activities in the stores could be plainly viewed from the outside. Those efforts were not successful,” it states.