MACOMB — Aldermen discussed plans Monday for a new liquor license classification for craft breweries. Mayor Mike Inman said he has been asked for the past three years about the possibility of licensing microbreweries in Macomb.
"This is our effort to be proactive if there's an interest by any business," the mayor said. City Attorney Kristen Petrie said the proposed new liquor license would cover beer brewing on the premises and maintenance of a tasting room where the beer could be sampled, with a limit of three free samples, and purchased.
Petrie said the license would also cover beer not brewed on the premises and wine. She said a business could also be licensed to serve meals. The business could also purchase a package liquor license, an outdoor seating permit, and extra hours beyond a midnight closing.
The city attorney said that, in addition to the local liquor license, a business would need a state license that would be more specific as to the type of microbrewing done on site. Petrie said the business could sell beer by the keg as a distributor, but that keg registration would be required for any retail sales.
In other business, city council members reviewed a proposed $35,000 design agreement from Hanson Professional Services for development of a facility plan for new construction at the Macomb sewer plant. Public Works Director Scott Coker said the engineering firm would also submit required documentation to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Coker said much of the written work would be done by 2019 with construction planned for 2020. He said Hanson would prepare a request from the city for a low-interest IEPA loan to cover costs.
Sewer system manager Josh Peters said the work would primarily focus on improved treatment of sewage. He said one key element would be ultraviolet disinfection. "It's not something you just put in," Peters said. "There's going to be some construction.".
Mayor Inman said EPA regulations have changed and exemptions once given to older systems will be phased out and standards will be in place for a more effective disinfection process.
Alderman also heard a city code enforcement report from Community Development Coordinator Ray Heitner. He said there were 967 code violations in 2017 and 400 so far this year.
Heitner said the most common violations are abandoned or inoperative vehicles, unmowed grass, trash strewn about the property, and discarded furniture or appliances. He said the 400 violations are not necessarily for separate properties. "We do have quite a few repeat offenders," Heitner said.
Petrie briefed city council members on a case from Illinois that was recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court ruled that state employee Mark Janus was harmed by being a non-union employee forced to pay certain union fees for collective bargaining.
"To do so was a violation of his 1st Amendment rights," Petrie said. The court verdict only impacts government employees, not union efforts in the private sector. Petrie said it means that public employers may no longer require "fair share" fees from employees who choose not to join a union.
City Administrator Dean Torreson said no city employees have so far asked for exemption from union fair share payments.

Reach Patrick Stout by email at pstout@mcdonoughvoice.com