Normal limits alcohol sales at One Normal Plaza, backs Trail East plan to save Uptown mural


NORMAL (WEEK) – Opponents of alcohol sales at One Normal Plaza scored a partial victory Monday night, as the town council adopted an amended zoning code that does not include liquor or wine shops.

The council also accepted plans for a downsized development in Uptown Normal which keeps a popular mural at its current site, rather than moving or demolishing it.

Alcohol sales at the former Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School was hotly debated for more than a year, but action was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inability of concerned residents to argue their points in-person to town leaders.

Normal resident Judy Hanks addressed the council.

“You know a coffee shop, an ice cream thing or something that will continue to draw kids and remind them they’re safe. I grew up in an environment of lots of alcohol, and i know how unsafe alcohol is,” said Hanks.

Still, restaurants will be able to apply for liquor licenses under the zoning change. Council member Stan Nord was the only no vote.

“The historical records to see who voted to remove one of the protections that kept alcohol out of One Normal Plaza, I won’t put my name to that,” sad Nord.

Earlier, Nord won council approval of an amendment eliminating “wine and liquor shops” from operating there. Only Mayor Chris Koos and Council member Kevin McCarthy voted against the amendment.

The overall zoning change divides One Normal Plaza into four zones to spur further development. It’s the first comprehensive update since the late 1980s to an area that town staffers acknowledge has not reached its economic potential.

Meantime, the council voted 6-1, to approve Bush Construction’s downsizing of the Trail East complex on East Beaufort Street, partially funded by tax increment financing dollars.

The building is now planned to be four stories instead of five because one of the commercial tenants backed out. Trail East is still expected to include a food court, retail, office, and residential space.

The construction firm also agreed to preserve the mural attached to an existing structure on East Beaufort that had been the subject of a federal lawsuit.

It will now be incorporated into the new building, according to the developer’s amended plan.

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