The owners of the Fountain Blue banquet hall in Des Plaines hope they can still host weddings and other events in their outdoor tent -- so long as there's not a DJ involved.
In a new permit application filed with the city, the restaurant's owners agree not to have amplified music in the 6,000-square-foot tent, a major concession following the city council's previous rejection of a permit extension.
Fountain Blue has hosted events at the Lions Gate Pavilion tent since 2011 on its property at 2300 Mannheim Road. Neighbors who complained of excessive noise from the tent successfully argued before the city's zoning board of appeals and council this year to deny an extension of Fountain Blue's permit.
Following the city council's 5-3 rejection in June, lawyers for the city and Fountain Blue drew up an agreement that stipulated the banquet hall could host already-scheduled events in the tent through Nov. 9. Fountain Blue also was allowed to reapply for a permit, while agreeing not to sue the city for denying its extension.
So Fountain Blue is starting from scratch, now waiting for a hearing date from the zoning board after submitting its new application earlier this month. The city council will have final say.
Fountain Blue's application doesn't include a request for amplified music as it did before, though it does want to use its tent sound system for speeches and toasts, said Collin Corbett, a public relations representative for Fountain Blue.
Fountain Blue also wants to have "chamber music" in the tent, such as music from violins, pianos and harps, Corbett said.
"We've taken a pretty drastic step to resolve this issue," he said. "We believe we've gone above and beyond."
Banquet hall owner Tom Diamond took out a full-page ad earlier this month in the Daily Herald in which he apologized for his role in the contentious city approval process this year, and asks Des Plaines community members for their future support for the tent.
"The ugliness of the process caused me to (become) cynical, and I began to focus more on winning a political fight than on accomplishing what is best for our shared community. That was wrong and I am sorry," Diamond wrote.
"We pledge to do a better job of working hand-in-hand with you to bring this economic benefit to Des Plaines while also respecting the needs of our neighbors in the community."
But Bill Dillon, a Pine Street resident whose property sits directly behind the banquet facility, said Fountain Blue's new application is a "Band-Aid approach" that won't solve the problem of noise coming into neighbors' backyards.
"We want peace and quiet. We want to protect our property values. What isn't addressed here is how in the world do you handle a crowd?" Dillon said. "They're singing, dancing and clapping. All of that stuff comes out of the tent and it affects the neighbors."
Dillon, who spoke on behalf of a group of residents during previous city meetings, said residents would fight the tent proposal and win "a second and final time."
The tent is allowed to remain standing for now, though no events can be held there. Fountain Blue would have had to have taken it down by January had owners not reapplied for a permit on or before Nov. 9, according to their agreement with the city.