City debates Ravinia Brewing Company music permit, compromise reached

Debate surrounding Ravinia Brewing Company’s desire to attain a permit for outdoor music in warm months continued at a nearly three hour City Hall meeting Feb. 24 filled primarily with public comment. 

The city was tasked with drafting documents for a special permit that would allow the brewery to have live music outside some days between May 1 and Nov. 1. 

But since September, neighbors have raised concerns about noise levels and the number of days in which live music would be permitted outside.

The meeting ultimately led to the decision that documents would be drafted for a special permit which would allow the brewery to have music a maximum of three nights a week for up to three hours. Two nights per month, they are allowed to have bands, which are defined as an entity with bass and drums. Plus, Ravinia Brewing must take measures to ensure sound control, like raising sound deadening material on its fences. 

All that will be reevaluated at a meeting with the brewery’s leaders, neighbors and city officials in both mid-June and early August.

The decision is a compromise between the brewery’s original requests and the requests of the neighbors.

“Probably everyone up here is supportive of live music, but the beauty of government is balance,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. 

But that solution didn’t come easily. 

Over 20 people lined up to make public comments Monday, including some kids, both in favor and against the proposal. The meeting marked the 4th public hearing on the topic of Ravinia Brewing’s permit.

Kris Walker, a co-founder of Ravinia Brewing Company, spoke first and said the brewery is “one thousand percent willing to compromise,” but in his view, the proposal at hand was already a compromise. 

“We’re not talking about ACDC coming,” said Kris Walker, co-founder of Ravinia Brewing Company. “We’re talking about three hours of controlled music.” 

Neighbors would prefer the music not be outside at all. 

“I’m here once again to reiterate a basic request for fair compromise to simply offer music inside with the back door closed — period,” said Diane Hrabe, a resident who lives near the brewery. “ It’s all we’ve ever asked for from the start. My only issue with Ravinia Brewing Company is it’s unreasonably loud in the beer garden. We want to enjoy our own homes and yards in the summer without additional loud music.”

All parties struggled to find a compromise surrounding the city’s nuisance code. 

“We have to be exempt from the code,” Walker said. “It will be a constant issue, unfortunately. There’s too much subjectivity and perception.”

In turn, neighbors feared there would be no recourse if the police couldn’t provide a check for the music’s levels. 

Police Chief Lou Jogmen explained that if the company is not exempt from the code, the likelihood of citation — and ultimately being shut down for the night — is high. 

“We really try to accommodate both sides of the equation but given the way [the code] is written, it’s a challenge to enforce,” he said. 

The biggest fear in the room was that by stifling the business’ music — or worse, having them invest in thousands of dollars of sound equipment only to have the council decide later that the outdoor music would no longer be allowed — would cause the business to fail.

“There has got to be an easier way for small businesses to do business in Highland Park,” said resident Leah Daniels. “We’re sending a clear message to businesses and other businesses that want to  come here. The hoops seem massive and the money they’re being asked to spend seems outrageous. For new businesses witnessing this, it’s not a good look.”

“If [sound] engineers come, that could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars,” said Athena Hoobler, wife of co-founder Jeff Hoobler. “If with the sound attenuation it’s still too loud and then having to shut it down after thousands of dollars — that’d be really unfortunate. We’d hope to remain open, but there’s a chance we won’t be able to if that fails unfortunately.”

Round it up:

  1. Two boy scouts, Henry Droll and Jonah Shapiro, were named Eagle Scouts. They are the 127th and 128th scouts to receive the honor within their troop’s history. 
  2. Brad Zaransky was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals; he did not come to the meeting. 
https://www.hplandmark.com/p/news-city/city-debates-ravinia-brewing-company-music-permit-compromise-reached

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