Southside Des Plaines residents and the owner of Fountain Blue met at a contentious city council meeting Monday night to discuss the facility’s noise levels.
Residents near Fountain Blue, located at 2300 Mannheim Road, have complained about nighttime noise levels coming from the facility. Owner Tom Diamond said that he has put a lot of money into systems that decrease the noise heard in the surrounding areas.
The dispute began in May when Diamond approached Des Plaines City Council members about extending his permit to continue operating the outdoor tent.
“The noise levels have not been fixed,” said nearby resident Bill Dillon. “Self-monitoring has not worked.”
Several aldermen said they have since gone to the area surrounding Fountain Blue on nights the facility was holding outdoor events to get a sense of the noise.
“In my subjective opinion, there was considerable noise,” said Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Brookman, who added that noise levels “depended on the night” and were “not overwhelming.” Fountain Blue is located in the fifth ward and many of the 20 residents at the meeting live there.
Dillon accused Diamond of giving aldermen a false schedule of when outdoor events would be while Diamond vehemently denied it.
Residents complain that the noise comes from three sources – music, the events’ DJs, and the crowds.
Aldermen agreed that the perceived noise levels are subjective and that the city should consider putting together a more specific noise ordinance.
“There needs to be an enforceable and measureable standard,” Brookman said.
The state of Illinois does have noise standards, which it has set through its Pollution Control Board, but City Attorney David Wiltse warned aldermen of getting into the specifics of sound levels.
“We don’t want to make it our burden [to set these standards],” Wiltse said. “You do not have enough information.”
Other aldermen said they worried that the standards still might not solve the problem.
“(Sixty-eight) decibels might still keep people up at night,” Third Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz said. A normal conversation or soft music is about 68 decibels.
Measuring sound gets complicated quick and takes a lot of variables into consideration, said Brian Homans, president and acoustical engineer for Shiner and Associates. He was at the meeting with Diamond and has performed work at Fountain Blue to contain the noise. Traffic and airplane noise would be measured along with sound from the banquet hall to get accurate readings and would presumably be used to set guidelines.
Up to this point the Des Plaines police department has received more than 30 complaints from several different residents. While they haven’t issued tickets in the past month because of the city’s “trial period,” officers have been using the Reasonable Man standard to determine how to deal with calls, said Acting Police Chief Mike Kozak.
Aldermen agreed to have city staff look into state noise standards, the cost of renting sound measuring devices and the consulting fees of a sound engineer.