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Bill would expand liquor licenses for restaurants near Lake Michigan

Updated: February 19, 2013 3:08PM



HAMMOND — Tourism officials are putting their support behind a state bill that would expand access to liquor licenses along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Senate Bill 173 would create a pilot Lake Michigan development zone that would extend 1,500 feet from the shoreline. An unlimited number of liquor licenses could be issued within that zone, said Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura.

The bill would be similar to the riverfront bill passed several years ago. That bill allowed communities with a river to create a development zone where unlimited liquor licenses would be available. The licenses would have to be issued to eatery-style establishments outline by the community. Since that bill was passed 163 riverfront liquor licenses have been issued.

Hobart used a variation of the riverfront legislation to help develop Lake George.

Speros Batistatos, executive director of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, said if approved the way it is written the bill could have a significant impact on tourism development in Northwest Indiana.

“This could impact Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties,” Batistatos said. The bill has yet to be assigned to committee and could potentially change.

Liquor licenses are key to restaurant and hotel development along the lakefront. Stahura said if passed the bill would be particularly beneficial to both Whiting and Hammond and could positively impact the entire Indianapolis Boulevard corridor.

Stahura said there has been a lot of interest in the city lately and officials have been in serious talks with several restaurants.

“We only have two licenses left right now. At some point in time somebody is going to lose out,” Stahura said.



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