WHEATON – The Wheaton City Council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol during its March 3 meeting.
The topic came up in a council meeting in late January when 7-Eleven and future Wheaton tenant Bucky's Express approached the city to request the change, said Director of Planning and Economic Development Jim Kozik.
The city already allows drugstores and grocers to carry liquor, and recently changed the code to permit grocery stores and restaurants to begin selling alcohol earlier in the day.
Now, residents can buy alcohol at convenience stores as welll, although there are restrictions as to where and how much can be sold.
The ordinance specifies that in order to sell alcohol, a store must be 2,000 square feet or larger, prohibit alcohol consumption on-premises and devote 2 percent or less of its square footage to alcohol sales. Beer may not be sold in packages of less than four cans or bottles and wine and spirits cannot be sold in containers less than 750 milliliters.
The ordinance also addresses council concerns about underage drinking, stating stores must have point-of-sale equipment to scan the identification of the potential customer to ensure they are of age.
Stores will be required to pay a $3,000 licensing fee and can sell alcohol from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
"This is really just a convenience to the consumers, who, I think, if they couldn't get the product at the convenience store, would just go down the road to a grocery store and get it anyway," said council member Todd Scalzo during a previous meeting.
In a separate ordinance, the city changed liquor licenses for drug stores, grocery stores, supermarkets and other retailers selling packaged alcohol to align hours of sale.
Restrictions for convenience stores wishing to sell alcohol
• Must be sold in original packaging• Store not less than 2,000 gross square feet• Only 2 percent of square footage may be devoted to alcohol sales• Beer cannot be sold in quantities of less than four cans or bottles• Wine and spirits cannot be sold in containers less than 750 milliliters• Alcohol sales must include a point-of-sale scan of the ID of the customer