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Daley v. American Drug Stores Inc.

February 26, 1998

RICHARD M. DALEY, AS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO AND LOCAL LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSIONER; MAYOR'S LICENSE COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; AND WINSTON L. MARDIS, AS DIRECTOR OF THE MAYOR'S LICENSE COMMISSION, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
AMERICAN DRUG STORES, INC., D/B/A OSCO DRUG, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT (THE LICENSE APPEAL COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT).



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE THOMAS P. DURKIN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice South delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, American Drug Stores, Inc. (American), is the owner of all of the outstanding stock of both Jewel Food Stores, Inc. (Jewel), and Osco Drug (Osco). In 1993, American instituted a business plan to convert a number of Chicago area Jewel stores into Osco stores. One of the Jewel stores included in American's conversion plan is located at 1425 West Morse, Chicago, Illinois, which is the site at issue in this appeal.

Jewel held a package goods liquor license at the Morse store. The Morse store is located in an area covered by a moratorium on new liquor licenses, wherein the issuance of new package goods liquor licenses is prohibited pursuant to section 4-60-023 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. Chicago Municipal Code §4-60-023 (1993).

On September 22, 1993, Osco forwarded a letter to the Local Liquor Control Commission (LLCC) requesting that the package goods liquor license at the Morse store be transferred from Jewel to Osco in the name of American. On December 6, 1993, the LLCC advised Osco that it would not approve its request to transfer the liquor license because it would constitute a "new" license in violation of the moratorium ordinance. Additionally, the LLCC stated that it found no special exception that would permit Jewel to transfer its license to Osco under the present ordinance. On July 22, 1994, the LLCC issued a written denial of Osco's application for the transfer.

Osco appealed the denial of its transfer application to the License Appeal Commission (LAC). Osco argued before the LAC that because of shared ownership in the package goods liquor license, the license could be transferred from Jewel to Osco under section 4-60-024(d) of the Municipal Code of Chicago. Chicago Municipal Code §4-60-024(d) (1993). On March 7, 1995, the LAC reversed the LLCC's denial of Osco's application. On June 23, 1995, the LLCC's petition for rehearing was denied by the LAC.

Thereafter, the LLCC filed a complaint in the circuit court for administrative review of the LAC's order. On December 18, 1996, following a hearing, the court entered an order finding that the decision of the LAC was against the manifest weight of the evidence and reversed the LAC's order. Osco appeals. We affirm the order of the circuit court.

The sole issue presented in this appeal is one that raises a question of ordinance interpretation; that is, a question of law. Thus, the appellate court conducts a de novo review and construes the ordinance independently without deference to the circuit court's judgment. Villegas v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners of the Village of Downers Grove, 266 Ill. App. 3d 202, 639 N.E.2d 966 (1994), rev'd on other grounds, 167 Ill. 2d 108, 656 N.E.2d 1074 (1995).

In construing an ordinance, the court's objective is to ascertain and give effect to the overall intent of the drafters. The most reliable indicator of the drafters' intent is the language of the ordinance. The language of the ordinance must be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Where the language is clear and unambiguous, the court must enforce the law as enacted, without employing extrinsic aids to construction. Villegas, 266 Ill. App. 3d 202, 639 N.E.2d 966, rev'd on other grounds, 167 Ill. 2d 108, 656 N.E.2d 1074.

In the present case, the plain language of section 4-60-023 of the Chicago Municipal Code prohibits the transfer of the package goods liquor license from Jewel to Osco unless Osco qualifies under an exception set forth in section 4-60-024 of the Code. Chicago Municipal Code §§ 4-60-023, 4-60-024 (1993).

Section 4-60-023 of the Chicago Municipal Code provides in pertinent part:

"Restrictions on additional package goods licenses. Subject to the provisions of subsection 4-60-021(c), no additional package goods license shall be issued for any premises located within the following areas: * * *." Chicago Municipal Code §4-60-023 (1993).

The ordinance goes on to list by address designated areas within each ward where the moratorium is imposed. The site at issue in this appeal, 1425 West Morse, Chicago, is within the moratorium area. See Chicago Municipal Code §4-60-023 (1993).

The Chicago city council created limited exceptions to the license prohibition through its enactment of section 4-60-024 of the ...


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