Chicago Ridge Board puts a lid on more video gaming machines

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The belief held by a majority of Chicago Ridge trustees that the village already has enough video gaming machines have put an end to efforts by a local liquor store to bring in five more.

During a presentation at the village board meeting on Tuesday, the owners of Tony’s Liquor & Tobacco, 10610 S. Ridgeland Ave., which already sells packaged liquor, said they would like to get a license to serve beer and wine onsite. This would also allow them to get a video gaming license.

Mayor Chuck Tokar noted that the business has been in town for eight years, without any problems, and Oak Lawn and other communities have started allowing liquor stores to get video gaming.

They owners said they would make the changes needed to serve beer and wine, including setting up a bar and sink, and building two ADA-compatible bathrooms. The Illinois Gaming Board requires food to be served in businesses with gaming licenses, and several trustees questioned whether plans for only packaged snacks would meet the requirement.

When Trustee Bruce Quintos asked the owners to provide more complete diagrams of their plans before any decision is made, Trustee Jack Lind suggested polling the board to see if the expense would be worth it to the owners.

Trustee Frances Coglianese pointed out that the village already has 19 video gaming establishments, which she said was enough.

“If a business can make a little more money, it is fine with me. I don’t want to penalize anyone because someone else got it first,” said Lind, who said he would allow one more license. Trustee Bill McFarland agreed, but the other four trustees said they would vote no, so the plans likely won’t progress any further.

“I am not in favor of bringing more video gaming machines to town,” said Quintos.

When the floor was opened to public comment, resident Mary Callan thanked the board for putting a stop to the video gaming proposal. “It is not about the money. It is about keeping Chicago Ridge a family-friendly community,” said Callan.

Issues about the board’s newly enacted ordinances aimed at solving a problem with rats were also brought up during public comment, and the mayor and trustees agreed that changes may have to be made. The issue was raised by the owner of a three-flat apartment building who questioned why she is now required to show that she has a contract with a waste removal company as well as an exterminator. She also asked if an inspection by an exterminator done in October would meet the requirements to get her business license renewed in January. The board agreed that having exterminator inspections in winter would be pointless.

The woman said she pays for waste removal month-to-month without a contract, and questioned why businesses and apartments have to show proof of exterminator inspections, but not single-family homes.

“It is because you are running a business,” said the mayor. However, he suggested making changes to allow multi-unit properties up to three-flats to simply provide letters from waste removal companies and exterminators as proof that the work is being done.

“This is the first time we are dealing with this. We’re spending a lot of taxpayer money to solve this (rat problem). Our new inspectors have probably written 200 tickets in the past month, but we might have to fine-tune this,” said Tokar.

At Lind’s request, the board agreed to have a workshop to discuss changing the new ordinances, as well as another one requiring property owners to replace trees removed from parkways. Several residents also raised concerns about that on Tuesday.