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Council Mulls Change to Live Music Ban at Restaurants on South Main

Current ordinance restricts restaurants that serve alcohol from having live music.

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. 

Dino McDonnell September 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM
OMG it is live amplified music that turns people into Alcoholics. Just how observed is this city council. This is a nuisance ordinance to protect the residents that live in the South Main area. North Main is a completely different area where most of the area is surrounded by businesses. Between Mr. Klinghammer and Ms. Feldman, there is not one once of common sense.
KSadie September 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I would like to hear music while I dine and it can easily be controlled by limiting the hours of the music and permitting only acoustical instruments. I don't understand the big deal. I live behind a city park and there are boom boxes that blare music from rented pavilions but there are restrictions on how late they can play and the same thing can be done for South Main street, this is not a difficult problem to resolve.
Dino McDonnell September 12, 2012 at 05:22 PM
You need to put yourself in the shoes of those who live around south main, the extra traffic, the car break-in and other petty crime. This is their home and they have a right to keep out as much problems as they can. It just might be that south main is not a good place for late night food establishments. South Main is not an entertainment district but an historic district. Let’s not forget that the city also sponsors music on main during the summer. Most of the music on north main does not even start until after 9 PM. The competition is also getting steep with other venues like the Wine Bar and Padavan’s in Newtown which all have music several evenings a month. It is survival of the fittest folks, and if you have a restaurant that’s business plan does not work in its current location, then it time to move.
KSadie September 13, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I must have not made myself clear. Music on South main can be possible without offending residents. Are the residents offended by people eating at the restaurants? I suspect not or they would have chosen to live elsewhere. Music would not create drunks it would enhance the dining experience, increasing "dining" traffic not "drunkards". Keep the music hours limited so they are not late into the night and require it to be acoustic music only. That is completely reasonable and should appease both sides.
Jessica Sutton September 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I don't understand how acoustic music would aggravate the situation? Also, live music is permitted for festivals, so why is this such an issue? Acoustic music would enrich the dining experiences on Main St. not degrade.

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