Fox River Grove home tour regulation sought

FOX RIVER GROVE – Village trustees want to see formal language of a possible home-based business ordinance that essentially would regulate home tours in town, especially at the Bettendorf Castle.

The Village Board this week asked its attorney to draw up language with the hopes it will be presented at the October Public Health and Safety Committee meeting.

Trustee Steve Knar pushed for the language to be created.

“This is about at the castle; this is about Concord. It’s a residential street,” Knar said. “I’m a little miffed that we continue to do nothing. We’re supposed to look out for all the residents of this town. It seems to me the only person we’re
looking out for or protecting is the person who’s causing all the trouble.”

Residential property owners giving tours became an issue last year when the village filed charges alleging that Bettendorf Castle owner Michael Strohl had violated the rules of the residential zoning area in which he lives by inviting visitors to his home for a tour. Strohl was found not guilty.

Knar said the village needs to stop communicating with Strohl, and Strohl needs to work with his neighbors to come to a solution.

“Nobody in this town wants to have banquets, tours, Easter egg hunts, car shows in front of their house,” Knar said. “It’s a residential neighborhood. ... I love the castle, I would like to go there and visit it. I wish he could work out a deal where he could have tours.”

Trustee Mike Ireland has introduced draft language in regard to home tours that would require a special-use permit for home tours. Among other things, the language would require meeting requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, having approval from the health department if food is served, having insurance and requiring fire district inspections.

“Given the fact that we’re in this small period of time that I think we’re minimized from having any huge events, provides the village an opportunity to do due diligence, take time and write things correctly,” Ireland said.

Trustee Joanna Colletti said it has been frustrating that the process is taking so long.

“I just don’t want us to be so overly restrictive, ... that the home-based business ordinance ... would totally shut down every other business that maybe or could be in the village,” Colletti said. “Can we work together to try to resolve this? Absolutely. I hope that we could work it out, with the community [and] with the Strohls.”

Trustee Suzanne Blohm said the village has spent a lot of time and money on the castle issue.

“I’m not against redefining things, I’m not necessarily against working something out with the Strohls and doing something that would work for everybody,” Blohm said. “I do think we need to be aware, if we do this ordinance, you’re basically making it a permitted use. Even though you’re putting in restrictions ... if somebody does it, now you have to allow it.”

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