Brides and grooms who'd like to get married at the in St. Charles often change their minds after learning they won't be able to have live music at the reception.
David Campbell, owner of the winery, said he's lost hundreds of weddings because of a long-standing city zoning code which prohibits live music at restaurants, cafés and cafeterias located in the South Main Preservation District.
David and his wife, Tammy Campbell, have petitioned to have the zoning law changed to allow restaurants and cafés to provide live music if they obtain a conditional use permit. The Campbells have owned the Little Hills Winery for the past 15 years.
“Equally as long as we’ve had the restaurant we’ve wondered why we are the only winery in the state that’s not allowed to have live music,” David Campbell said at the Planning and Zoning meeting Aug. 27.
The Little Hills Winery and Restaurant is one of nine restaurants in the South Main Preservation Society District that is not permitted to have live music.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 against the zoning change. The St. Charles City Council held a public hearing on the matter Tuesday, but sponsor Coucilwoman Mary Ann Ohms opted to wait to introduce the bill before the council. She said she'd like to see the proposal amended to allow live music indoors only at restaurants.
"I want a compromise position if we can reach it," she said. "I'm going to try to get the best bill possible."
The Campbells said they understand that the winery is located in an area which also has residents, which is why they recommend imposing restrictions that music must end by 8 p.m. Sundays, 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Several area business owners spoke out against the proposed change, saying it would have a negative impact on the residents who live on South Main and on South Second Street.
“Music is not the issue. The combination of music and alcohol is the issue,” said Holly Haddox, owner of The Conservatory, during a planning and zoning meeting. “Regardless of your intentions we know that over time conditions are relaxed. We know enforcement is impossible. We know some who sell alcohol will always push to the edges.”
Residents who live on Main Street and Second Street expressed concerns that allowing music would lead to more .
Former city council member and current Planning and Zoning member Larry Muench tried to come up with a solution that would work for everyone in 2010. After four months of work, he pulled a proposal from consideration, which would have allowed unamplified music.
Councilman Dave Beckering said he's heard various discussions about the difficulty of enforcement by monitoring decibel levels. "We don't have the means or funding to send police officers out to monitor decibel levels," he said.