Business Fighting City's Demand to Hire Security Guard or Lose Liquor Permit

URBANA -- The owners of the Home Run Food Mart, 1509 Washington St., have sued Urbana, seeking to overturn a city demand that the business must hire an armed, licensed security guard or face the loss of its package liquor license.

The suit was filed Wednesday in Champaign County Circuit Court.

The city demanded in late October that the store owners, Ramzi AlSaqri and Jim Saqri, implement a security plan put together by Urbana Police Chief Eddie Adair, which included hiring an armed, licensed security guard who would patrol the store and grounds from 4 p.m. until the store closes.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing approved the plan on Oct. 26.

Champaign attorney Robert Kirchner is representing the store owners, who he said would eventually be put out of business if the security plan is implemented because of the high cost of hiring a security guard. The plan represents a "de facto revocation" of the store's liquor license, he charged.

"Our client has done nothing wrong and has never been charged with any liquor license violation," Kirchner said. "Eddie Adair and Laurel Prussing don't like the people who come there and frequent this business."

The city demanded in the Oct. 26 letter that the security plan be in place by Dec. 1, but agreed to extend the deadline to this past Wednesday when it learned the suit was imminent.

During a hearing Wednesday before Circuit Judge Michael Jones, the deadline for implementing the security plan was extended to Dec. 16 and court hearings were set for Dec. 15 and possibly Dec. 16 to hear the case.

Kirchner said he is seeking a ruling that the proposed security plan is unlawful, as well as a temporary injunction while the dispute is being heard by the court.

The plaintiff in the suit is the Diah Corp. and it names as defendants the city, and Prussing and Adair in their official capacities. Prussing and Adair are also named as defendants in their individual capacity, as are three businesses located near the Home Run Food Mart, including Monical Pizza Corp., Woodstone Properties LLC and Hey Ram Inc.

Kirchner said he might seek damages in the case if his client loses his liquor license. He charged that the three adjacent businesses might have prompted the city to draft the security plan.