Elgin again fines Afterset bar for overcrowding
By Mike Danahey email@example.com September 12, 2012 7:12PM
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:21AM
ELGIN — At Wednesday afternoon’s liquor control commission meeting, a downtown bar received yet another fine for overcrowding.
Afterset, 158 Symphony Way, was fined $2,000 for being over its occupancy limit of 80 people on Feb. 4, when police counted 96 people in the bar, which has a provisional 4 a.m. license.
In January, Afterset was issued a $1,000 fine and a stern warning from Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain for repeated issues of overcrowding.
In 2011, on April 30, police noted 141 people occupied the space. On Oct. 29, 147 people were there, on Nov. 20, there were 94. And on Dec. 2, police counted 95 people in the building. The bar is across the street from Elgin’s police station.
In January, attorney Robert Smith said the bar has taken steps that include training personnel and working with police to bar patrons who have been trouble there and at other Elgin drinking establishments.
Smith reiterated the above Wednesday, noting, “To the best of my knowledge, my client takes seriously the issue of capacity.”
Corporation Counsel William Cogley noted that Afterset “has taken significant steps to control the premises” and has not had an occupancy violation since the one in February.
The full city council serves as the liquor control commission, and Afterset has been on its radar for more than a year due to a preponderance of calls to the establishment, particularly one early July 30, 2011, where police arrested five men in the aftermath of a fight between two of them outside the bar.
Police reports stated that as four officers worked to stop the fight, a crowd gathered, made up of people in the adjacent parking lots and patrons spilling out of the bar. Police called for backup units, as reports estimated that the crowd grew to between 150 and 200 people.
According to the reports, “due to the establishment having such a high number of calls for service during those hours, several EPD officers are needed on both Friday and Saturday nights to monitor the subjects letting out.”
Late last year, the council approved regulations that state no more patrons can be let into a bar a half-hour before closing, no one is allowed back in after that time, and last call must be 15 minutes before lockup. Sales of distilled spirits have been limited to orders by the glass, with full bottle sales banned. Police Sgt. Al Young has been working a special liquor detail since last fall, and he has been suggesting bars with problem patrons, such as Afterset, put together banned lists.
In another alcohol-related matter, as expected, the council acted at its committee of the whole session to move along a ordinance holding adult property owners (or renters) responsible if illegal drugs are being ingested or alcohol consumed by an underaged person at the residence either if that person knows or “reasonably knows” it is happening. If the adult isn’t home, the rule would apply if the person “has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of illicit drugs, alcohol or alcoholic beverages by those under 21.”
The council also moved forward a proposed ordinance that would levy fines ranging from at least $500 to at least $1,000 for the sale, delivery, possession, use, manufacture or advertising of synthetic drugs. It also would allow the city to declare any premises in which synthetic drugs are possessed, manufactured or sold a public nuisance. Such places can be closed by the city for a year, or the owners can put up a bond between $5,000 and $10,000 to reopen under certain conditions.