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Winery Owners Seek Repeal of Live Music Ban on South Main

Little Hills Winery and Restaurant owners have asked the city to consider changing the zoning codes to allow live music at restaurants in the South Main Preservation District.

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.  

Amber Sullivan September 05, 2012 at 01:09 PM
How about installing a decibel meter at each location that wants to have live music? They would be responsible for installing the meter & it would need to be inspected ?once a year? to make sure it was working properly. I think unamplified music would be a great way to go. I'm glad this issue is being discussed. Hannibal has a noise ordinance they enforce. Maybe the City of St. Charles can look into how other cities handle this issue effectively.
Steve Barteau September 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I for one would love live music at the restaurants on South Main. The need/wants of many are being held hostage by a few who are scared of what might happen. How about giving it a trial period of say 1 year, with the decibels restriction like mentioned. I'd be willing to bet the business owners would police them selves rather than risk losing the ability to have live music. A time statute could also be a part of this say 11 pm?.
katie September 05, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I disagree...a decibel reader will be ingnored and a slap on the wrist fine will be written. I may not object to instrumental / accoustic music, but you don't want to walk down the historic district of main to some heavy metal band seaping out onto the bricks. It would ruin the historic main street ambiance!
Agustus Brandenburger September 05, 2012 at 06:23 PM
The necessity to a obtain a conditional use permit is exactly the type of oversight that is needed. It both promotes business and provides the necesarry oversight for the community. Then if the business is found to be unable to provide the proper oversight to properly excercise this privelage they will no longer be granted it. Flexibilty and compromise is the key properly nurturing the type of pro business enviroment that continues to make the main st business corridor the succesful attraction it has become.
Tammy Setzer Denton September 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I was under the impression that live music is acceptable, amplified music is not.
Kalen Ponche September 05, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Here's the current zoning regulation Section 400.330(B)(2) Restaurants, cafes or cafeterias including restaurants, cafes or cafeterias where intoxicating liquor is sold and consumed incidental to the sale of food; provided that no intoxicating liquor may be sold to patrons standing or sitting at a bar, whether or not such sale is incidental to the sale of food and the only exception to this latter proviso is that intoxicating liquor may be sold to patrons standing or sitting at an exposed bar in a microbrewery. Also, such uses shall exclude live music and dancing on such premises. The bill that Councilwoman Mary Ann Ohms decided to wait to introduce would have permitted live music as a conditional use, which means the city can impose sepcific conditions recommended by the Planning and Zoning, like hours it would be allowed, amplification rules or number of musicians. Ohms said yesterday that she is interested in changing that to allow live music indoors only as a conditional use.
Agustus Brandenburger September 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Good follow up Kalen. I think that is an appropriate compromise to have music inside as a conditional use.
katie September 05, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I understand the desire to make "more money", but in the evening sitting at the winery would you really want to overhear someone's rock band? I've been at the winery at 8pm drinking a glass and enjoying conversation and I can tell you, if I hear "the beat a pumpin'" I'm not coming back. I can go anywhere for that ambiance. I might as well go somewhere close to home if that's what its going to be like. I think it would be really sad to see the historic district turn into every other bar district in anytown, USA. I feel that this is the beginning of the demise and then everyone will start wondering "what happened". The people that are attracted to this area, are not coming for the live rock band, they are coming for the ambiance. If you want to draw a completely different crowd, go ahead with this plan, but if you want to talk about a "pro business" environment you better start looking at the majority of business' in the area because your 20 something drinking crowd isn't going to support Ooh La La, the Spice Shop, the Sweets Shop or buy nicknacks.
katie September 05, 2012 at 07:30 PM
When David and his wife, Tammy Campbell bought the winery 15 years ago were they unaware of the restrictions of the historic district?
Agustus Brandenburger September 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Thanks for your hyperbole. This desire to make a profit is at the heart of any business venture, that is why it is not a charity. I am sure that with 15 years of cultivating a clientele the owners of the winery will not be looking to chase you off but to compliment that ambience. Our historic district is compromised of many businesses that function at different hours and can accomodate different clienteles. Why not have both? And if a knickknack shop can not turn a profit, it migh be time for a little turnover. I often see young people in the afternoons eating icecream, going to Yoga, and buying gifts at the English Shoppe. It needs to be a commnity place and not just a stop over for bussed in retiree's. Our local's are the ones we can depend on for repeat business. and a little live music is not opposed to that end.
Ann September 05, 2012 at 11:42 PM
If you bought the winery and there are restrictions then you have to deal with it. If you are the only winery that can't have music then you might need to consider why that might be. You are in a residential area. Why should residents have to put up with any music and forfeit their peace so you can make more money?
Jessica Mahdi September 06, 2012 at 01:09 AM
While I think live music on Main Street would increase traffic and business for a select few businesses, I believe it would have an overall negative impact on the "historic" aspect of Main, which is one of the primary marketing tools for St. Charles. We are marketing ourselves to the rest of the nation as a "historic district," not a "party place." Plus, with the whole local South Main crime saga, I think live music is asking for trouble. Additionally, hasn't St. Charles PD said they are having issues keeping up with the South Main crime spike? Should we really add on a deluge of noise complaints on an already strapped department?
Scott Adair September 06, 2012 at 04:48 AM
I can see it now...Mother-In-Law House presents Spawn of Satan this Saturday night! For the 4 or 5 bars/restaurants in question, they lose the live music appreciation customers to North Main and any other stretch of pavement in the city. They could quit selling alcohol and provide live music now, but not much money is made with grape juice and root beer.
katie September 06, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Augustus - A community place IS what we have now. A Party scene is NOT. If it turns into south main, then enjoy the new harley drivin' pary crowd, but count me out.
katie September 06, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Ann - I agree. If you BUY your winery (restaurant as they do not actually make or grow there) in a HISTORIC area, you have to respect those restrictions. Most winerys are in remote areas of missouri on FARMS - a lot less restrictions...
Tammy Campbell September 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Amen!!! Thank you for your support, very eloquently said!
Tammy Campbell September 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Let's be perfectly clear......THERE IS LIVE MUSIC ON SOUTH MAIN STREET....The Tea Room will be hosting a big-band on Friday and Saturday Nights, The Newly opened BBQ restaurant at the end of south main has LIVE music......during festival's the band in the park, is more than audible at 800 S Main Street......live music on south main exists now.....just not in 9 specific addressess
katie September 06, 2012 at 07:27 PM
It sounds like there is already an overabundance to too loud music is what you are saying.
Tammy Campbell September 06, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Ok Katie I would be delighted to have you for lunch. When are you available? It appears you have many concerns I would love to address face to face, I'll buy.
Carl Fontiac September 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I would also add that an incident at the winery is part of the reason that live music was banned.
Dino McDonnell September 12, 2012 at 05:33 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.
Josephine Roberts September 13, 2012 at 06:21 PM
This is an atrocious response, not only has this been said by the common public, it was stated by a councilman, Seventy five percent of people purchasing commerical property for economic growth will seek some modification to zoning laws to accomplish their business objectives. The fallacy of your arguement assumes, NOTHING EVER CHANGES, AND NO ONE WANTS CHANGE!!! The owners of McDonald's on Fifth Street purchased the building Years ago before the revolution of "drive-up" windows or the proper zoning term is "in-car food service", without a change in the zoning ordinance, allowing the conditional use of "in-car food service," there would be no drive thru. So this response is un-educated.
Josephine Roberts September 13, 2012 at 06:24 PM
That is a very interesting fact, would love for you to provide evidence of this? From researching on my own, seems like the ordinance was put in place in 1970, The original owners of the Winery of the Little Hills, incorporated and produced wine in 1978.....those dated dont support your comment

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