St. Charles City Council members on Tuesday mulled a change to the current law that bans restaurants that serve alcohol during a work session.
Councilwoman brought the ordinance forward for discussion. She's seeking a compromise that might allow live music but limit it to unamplified music during certain hours and perhaps be allowed inside only.
Council members were reluctant to say whether they'd support a change without seeing the specific rules outlined. But many shared their thoughts on the issue.
Allow live music indoors only
Several council members said they could not support a change that would permit live music outdoors at restaurants with alcohol.
Councilman Dave Beckering said South Main Street is different from North Main Street in that South Main Street has many residents. He said he's not interested in changing the ordinance to allow live music outdoors.
"If Mary Ann can come up with something that's restrictive enough and I think it can be enforced, I'll consider it," he said.
Councilman Michael Klinghammer said he believes the proprietor of a business has the right to say what goes on inside of a building as long as it's not affecting the neighborhood. He said when music is amplified, even inside a building, it can be heard by surrounding neighbors.
"Non amplified music within a structure, you know, it can very well add to the ambiance of the experience," he said.
Klinghammer said the real question is how such a regulation would be enforced. "Is that a burden we want to shift to the police department? Whether or not music is being amplified?" he asked.
Live music would 'add to ambiance'
Council President Laurie Feldman said she is concerned about fairness and the law because several businesses on South Main Street are able to have live music.
The current law ties music to alcohol and doesn't allow restaurants that serve alcohol to have live music. "I don't think any one group should be treated different than any other," she said.
Councilwoman Mary West said she supports having live music with a conditional use permit that would require the music to end early. West said she received an email that pointed out that St. Charles had live music all over town in the 1800s.
"Why not have it now if we want to be historical and do like they did in the 1800s?" she said. "I think it would add to the ambiance."
Residents reiterate concerns
Noel Steinmann, who lives in the 400 block of Main Street, said he's worried that adding live music would add more cars to an area without much parking.
He also said he's concerned that it would be difficult to stop once it started. "I think allowing this is opening a can of worms," he said. "You can't say yes to one and no to others."
Jacinta Weaver, who lives on South Second Street, said she is not opposed to live music, but is concerned about parking and the drunk drivers leaving the area. She said she's had four cars damaged in the past year by drunk drivers.
"The loudness wouldn't bother me -- it's just too much for our neighborhood to hold," she said.