Wauconda officials looking at new noise rules after complaints
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The arrival of summer weather means more outdoor activity and live music at some of the popular bars on Wauconda's Bangs Lake.
That's great if you want to let your hair down and dance beneath the stars — but not so much if you live in a lakefront home and want to get a solid night's sleep.
So, in an effort to balance the financial interests of bar owners with noise-related concerns of some residents, Wauconda officials are developing new rules to limit the volume of late-night entertainment in town.
"The key word for us is enforceable middle ground," said Police Chief Douglas Larsson, who's been leading the effort.
Larsson started researching the issue last summer after receiving complaints from lakefront residents about loud music at Docks Bar and Grill and Lindy's Landing Restaurant and Marina.
The people Larsson spoke with were particularly concerned about music playing after 11 p.m., when current village rules say things should quiet down for the night.
"We have been forced to spend our evenings away from home on Saturday so we can have some peace and quiet," one resident wrote in an email to village hall that was shared with the Daily Herald. "There is no peace."
Some people have complained about thumping bass lines more than generally loud music, Larsson said. The lake amplifies the noise, he noted.
The village has rules governing noise from construction sites, garbage trucks, moving cars and electronic amplifiers — like those at a live-music venue.
In part, the rules say amplified music shouldn't be audible to a person standing 100 feet beyond a property line between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The bars have been ticketed, Larsson said, and the managers have said they'd try to turn down the music.
"But it's not easy to control the band," he said.
Larsson also asked residents to have more patience with the businesses, but that didn't last, he said.
Dennis Hennessy, the promotions and marketing manager at Docks, said he wants to work with residents and the village. After the complaints surfaced last summer, Docks moved bands indoors from an outdoor performance area, he said.
"Docks really does want to be a good neighbor," Hennessy said.
He said he'd support new decibel limits for music or other changes that can be enforced with scientific measurements.
He also backs steep fines for violators who've been warned to turn down the volume.
Lindy's co-owner Laurie Barth, however, said she's "vehemently opposed" to any changes in the noise rules.
The group of people who have complained is small, she said. Most people in the area enjoy the music, she insisted.
Additionally, changing the local noise rules could cost Lindy's customers and revenue, and that could affect staffing, Barth said.
The village's burden, Larsson said, is to balance the interests of both sides.
Whatever proposal comes forth won't merely target Docks or Lindy's. It would apply to residential parties or outdoor performances at locations throughout the village.
Mayor Frank Bart inherited the issue when he took office earlier this month. He has asked the village board's police committee to develop two or three distinct options.
Bart declined to say if he supports the idea of new noise rules.
"In general, limitations and boundaries are hallmarks of compromise in order to preserve each other's freedoms and establish a mutual understanding," Bart told the Daily Herald in an email.
The village board will discuss the matter again in June, Bart said.
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