Residents near the Black Ram restaurant in Des Plaines are upset with noise coming from the business late at night, and say the business' plans for an outdoor patio would make matters worse.
But the restaurant's attorney says his client has taken steps to resolve noise issues, while promising that the new patio won't have DJs or live music as they do inside -- just "typical dining noise."
Black Ram owner Georgi Urdov has submitted a revised set of plans to the city's Community and Economic Development Department that call for an outdoor patio on the east side of the restaurant at 1414 E. Oakton St. The patio, with a proposed seating capacity of 70, would be located about 350 feet from the nearest property line, officials said.
An eight-foot tall fence with landscaping is being proposed to provide a buffer between the patio and nearby houses.
Residents have complained about loud music and loitering in the parking lot in the early morning hours since the Black Ram reopened under new ownership late last year.
Joanne Freer, who lives on Lincoln Avenue directly behind the restaurant, said her property would be "in the line of fire" of the new patio. She said the music is so loud at night from within the restaurant that the "thumping noise of bass" permeates through her walls and into the house.
"I understand the city doesn't need to have another vacant building. This is tax revenue for them," Freer said. "But have they done anything for the fact that we are also paying taxes?"
Bob Nicioli, who also lives behind the restaurant, said he's seen the restaurant "turn more into a night club" about 10:30 p.m. on some nights, with loud music sometimes going past 2 a.m. Then, patrons remain in the parking lot after they leave the building, he says.
"Outdoors it looks like Mardi Gras," Nicioli said. "We just want to sleep at night. I don't care what they're doing. But they shouldn't have their party in our bedroom."
Elliot Wiczer, Urdov's attorney, said in the last month, the restaurant has hired security guards for weekends, measured decibel levels at the property line, and posted signs in the restaurant and parking lot asking patrons to be courteous to neighbors.
"Hopefully things will calm down and we can all coexist," Wiczer said.
He said the restaurant wants to install an outdoor patio in order to better compete with other businesses that offer al fresco dining. No live music would be on the patio, he added.
"The only use would be for people eating," Wiczer said. "We would not anticipate any noise being heard from that area to the property line, but again those are things to be tested and easily resolved."
Urdov reopened the restaurant last fall after it was foreclosed upon under previous ownership in 2009. He has introduced Bulgarian food to the menu, while hosting DJs and live music on weekend nights, Wiczer said.
Two city nuisance citations against Black Ram are pending in Cook County court. They each come with a maximum fine of $750.
The city's zoning board of appeals was scheduled Tuesday to consider Black Ram's earlier request for permission to install a patio, but that request was withdrawn as Urdov submitted revised plans for review.
Urdov sought zoning relief from the board after George Sakas, the city's director of community and economic development and zoning administrator, denied a building permit for the proposed patio because it would violate the noise section of the city zoning ordinance.
Urdov's latest plans, unlike his initial submission, includes a sound barrier.
Now Urdov and his attorney are waiting to hear from Sakas' office whether the patio is approved -- and if not, they will again appeal to the 7-member zoning board.
Sakas said he will be reviewing the materials this week.