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Article updated: 7/3/2013 7:34 AM

Fountain Blue tent removal could affect weddings


With less than 24 days until their wedding, Judy Pike broke down in tears while trying to convince the Des Plaines City Council to let Fountain Blue Banquets operate its outdoor tent.

Pike said her parents' wedding was the first at Fountain Blue in 1978. With the passing of her father earlier this year, she said the venue now has more sentimental value.

"This is so important to us and our family history. Think back to your own weddings," Pike said, turning to the audience at Monday night's meeting.

Pike and her fiance, Nick Locher, said they discovered they could lose their booking after reading a Daily Herald article about the council's June 19 meeting, when a resolution was denied to allow the tent to remain under a conditional-use permit.

At Monday's meeting, alderman voted 5-3 to accept a resolution which outlined reasons why the tent should be shuttered. The vote does not affect the regular, indoor banquet hall.

Residents have constantly complained about excessive noise from events held in the 6,000-square-foot tent since its erection in 2010, and in January 2011, the city council gave Fountain Blue owner Tom Diamond permission to operate the tent until Jan. 18, 2013.

Diamond applied to keep the tent in place and public hearings were held earlier this year, where residents continued to advocate for its removal. Sound engineers hired by both Diamond and the city determined that the volume of noise met state standards.

Alderman voted on first reading to allow the tent to stay under a conditional-use agreement.

But in a surprising turn of events, the decision was flipped during the resolution's second reading on June 19 after city council members said no permit was ever issued for construction of the tent. Diamond said he had verbal permission from former village officials.

City manager Michael Bartholomew said Monday night that he and his staff plan to meet with Diamond "immediately" to determine an end date so that the tent's current, booked weddings won't be unduly harmed.

But some residents of the area want the tent to stop operation as soon as possible.

"The noise level may be legal, but people cannot sleep," Susanne Atanus said. "After this weekend, no more."

Diamond applied to keep the tent before the end date, Bartholomew said, and therefore was allowed to book weddings during the public hearing and reading process.

Diamond's attorney, James McCluskey, said that the argument is between the city and Fountain Blue, not the brides and grooms, so their wedding days shouldn't be "ruined."

Brendan Freemon, who booked his wedding a year and a half ago, said he just wants to know an end date so he and his fiance can figure out a next step.

"I wish there could be some definite answer ... so we can have some peace of mind," said Freemon, whose wedding is Sept. 1.

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