Elgin council OKs concerts at Legit Dogs

  • Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comLegit Dogs and Ice owner Matthew Habib and his wife Jennifer Polit celebrated after getting the thumbs-up from the Elgin City Council to host concerts at their venue in the basement of 51 S. Grove Ave.

    Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comLegit Dogs and Ice owner Matthew Habib and his wife Jennifer Polit celebrated after getting the thumbs-up from the Elgin City Council to host concerts at their venue in the basement of 51 S. Grove Ave.

 
 
Updated 2/28/2019 6:31 PM

Supporters of Legit Dogs and Ice have turned up at the last two city council meetings in Elgin to advocate for allowing the business to host concerts, a measure that got a "yes" vote Wednesday.

Opponents, however, said they didn't get a chance to speak Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The measure, expected to become final after a second council vote next week, allows the business in the basement of Dream Hall, 51 S. Grove Ave., to host music concerts, deejay events and other performances like poetry slams.

"I feel wonderful," Legit Dogs owner Matthew Habib said. "It's definitely been a long road getting here."

The venue could host a maximum of eight events per month, six small ones and two "headline." Most concerts would end by midnight except for holiday events like New Year's Eve.

The city council vote was 7-0, with Councilman John Steffen abstaining.

Residents of Fountain Square on the River across the street spoke at a planning and zoning commission meeting earlier this month about their concerns regarding traffic and noise. Nobody did so Wednesday, which David Multack, vice president of Braeside Condominium Management, said was the result of a confusing sign-in sheet for public comment.

"We were there to speak," he said.

To make matters worse, the city council decided to experiment "on the fly" with new rules for public comment on Wednesday, which resulted in further confusion, Mayor David Kaptain said. It was not his intention to prevent anyone from speaking, he said.

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Sound tests conducted in January at Legit Dogs by city staff members and a sound expert showed no music could be heard from the sidewalk in front of Fountain Square, city officials said.

Fountain Square residents also are concerned about noise from people congregating after concerts, Multack said.

Councilwomen Tish Powell and Carol Rauschenberger said people who live downtown should expect to have to deal with some noise.

Multack took issue with that. "People who bought into this development helped reinvigorate the downtown community," he said, adding the city needs to better address zoning downtown.

Councilman Toby Shaw said some of the concerns are legitimate, due to problems caused by previous occupants of the building at 51 S. Grove Ave.

Habib hosted about five concerts without proper approval in 2018 -- he said he didn't realize he didn't have the proper permits -- and the city received no complaints about them. Once the issue came to light in December, city officials told Habib they were willing to work with him as long as he went through the proper approval process.

A concert by the punk rock band Smoking Popes took place in late January as scheduled, Habib said, but city officials said they had to give him a $500 fine as per city ordinance, "which totally makes sense," he said.

After being contacted by the Daily Herald, city spokeswoman Molly Center said, "we have found the language on the form to be rather confusing and understand why the Fountain Square representation did not sign up to speak or was unsure of how to do so. The clerk is updating the form and the Fountain Square representatives will have the opportunity to address the council at the March 6 city council meeting."

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