City Council: Bar liquor license moratorium approved

Fire training facility engineering agreement approved

Jeff Helfrich
Posted 1/24/22

At its Monday meeting, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance limiting the number of class B (bar) liquor licenses in town for the next two years in an effort to limit gaming machines.

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City Council: Bar liquor license moratorium approved

Fire training facility engineering agreement approved


ROCHELLE — At its Monday meeting, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance limiting the number of class B (bar) liquor licenses in town.

The ordinance places a moratorium on class B licenses until May 1, 2023. A class B liquor license allows for the retail sale on the premises of specified alcoholic liquor as well as other packaged retail sale of liquor. The city will have no more than 10 class B licenses during that time unless the council decides otherwise. For the past few years, several council members have approached city staff about the idea of limiting the number of gaming machines in Rochelle. 

Gaming licenses are granted by the state to businesses with the necessary liquor licenses and the city has no other way to limit gaming other than by limiting liquor licenses. The ordinance exempts all current holders of class B liquor licenses and does not affect any other type of liquor license. 

“Just to be clear, if we have someone come in that wants to start a new business, we could always change the ordinance at that time if it's something we want to do,” Mayor John Bearrows said. “We have no control over gaming other than liquor licenses. We saw in the past two years as licenses came on board, the gaming revenue didn't increase, it was just spread out more. We all kind of felt like we reached a saturation point.”

During an earlier and separate portion of the meeting, the council unanimously approved an ordinance to delete one class B liquor license for Sissy’s Wild Card Saloon at 417 Cherry Ave. to create a liquor license for Kevin Crandall and Shane Erdman, who recently bought that business. Liquor licenses can’t be transferred from former to new business owners.

Training facility

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an agreement with Fehr Graham for no more than $36,000 for the design and construction oversight of a fire training facility for the city and the Ogle-Lee Fire Protection District. 

The facility will be at 920 S. Main St. and is also slated to serve as a utility training facility for Rochelle Municipal Utilities and could also be used by other city departments and area organizations. 

Fehr Graham has helped develop concept plans for the multiple sites considered for the project and is “very knowledgeable” about the needs of the city and the OLFPD, the meeting’s agenda packet said. 

All costs will be split between the city, RMU, and the OLFPD.


The council approved an ordinance amending its code relating to non-highway vehicles by a 4-3 vote that will now allow golf carts and UTVs to drive on Caron Road, 20th Street, Veteran's Parkway and Steward Road.

In the original non-highway vehicles ordinance, UTVs and golf carts were prohibited from driving on higher-traffic roads utilized by semi trucks including the above roads and Illinois Route 251, Illinois Route 38, Interstate 88, Interstate 39, Flagg Road and Dement Road. 

Recently, residents approached council members to request that non-highway vehicles be allowed on currently-prohibited streets, particularly Caron Road from 7th Avenue to the Wal-Mart entrance.

Councilwoman Kate Shaw Dickey voted against the change to the ordinance. 

"When we did this, it was to be a neighborhood community thing, but safety was also at the forefront of what we were doing,” Shaw-Dickey said. “To me, I don't believe that these vehicles belong on truck routes."

Bearrows said there have not been many issues with non-highway vehicles since the original ordinance and voted for the change. 

“I think people have shown that they're pretty responsible thus far and the police have said there haven't been a lot of problems with golf carts or UTVs,” Bearrows said.

Shop local

A presentation was made at the meeting on the city and RMU’s recently-completed Shop Local program. 

The program encouraged residents and businesses to patronize local small businesses deemed nonessential who were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. A $60 reimbursement in the form of a credit on a future RMU bill was given to those that submitted receipts totaling $300 from local businesses. 

The program yielded over 5,755 participants, $538,500 in RMU credits and $2,981,109 in benefits to businesses.


During the meeting, the city recognized Rochelle Police Deputy Chief Jeff Leininger, who retired Friday. Leininger was presented with a plaque by City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh and had many RPD employees in attendance. 

Leininger spent 23 years with RPD in numerous roles. 

“He showed respect, tact and humanity to all, even during the most difficult circumstances,” Fiegenschuh said. “He's a consummate professional and somebody that I look up to, not only as a human being but as a law enforcement professional.”

Flag presented

City employee Andy Rogde presented the council with a flag he and another city employee brought back from deployment in Saudi Arabia and Operation Inherent Resolve. 

“We're both members of the Air National Guard out of Wisconsin,” Rogde said. “We wanted to bring back something the city could have and thank it for the support when we were gone."


A proclamation was read by Bearrows making March 4 John W. Tilton Day in the city. Tilton was involved in the community in many ways, namely with the Vagabond Inn, which later became Hickory Grove. Bearrows said the idea for the honor came when the demolition of Hickory Grove was nearing a start. 

“Mr. Tilton did many amazing things in our community to help promote growth and make our community what it is today,” Bearrows said. “I just felt it very important to recognize him for that. It all came to light when we started taking that old building down and hearing the stories.”