By Steve Dunn
Commercial establishments such as L-Treyns still will be able to have outdoor music until 1 a.m. as the Keokuk City Council unsuccessfully attempted Thursday to move the time up.
Flanked by supporters, L-Treyns’ owner Larry Roberts said the proposed 11 a.m. cutoff would put him out of business.
“You’d mess with other things such as Rollin’ on the River, the Southside Boat Club and the yacht club,” Roberts told the council. “You’ll basically remove live music from Keokuk.”
Referring to his opponents, Roberts said, “If they get 11 (p.m.), they’ll ask for 10 (p.m.). If they get 10 (p.m.), they’ll ask for 9 (p.m.).”
Keith Oliver, who took exception to several of Roberts’ statements, referred to an article in the Daily Gate City in August 2008 in which Roberts indicated he would be satisfied with a cutoff of 11:30 p.m. to midnight.
“This type of stuff should be in non-residential areas,” Oliver added.
Oliver also said while he has no problem with a midnight cutoff, “1 a.m. is excessive.”
In the past, Roberts has had as many as 10 bands play at his outdoor beer garden adjacent to his business in the 1100 block of Main Street. This year, only six bands have performed so far because of the excessive heat this summer.
“My age group is 21 to 35 years old,” Roberts said. “Most work the second shift and some people work Saturdays.”
While the bands start playing at 9 p.m., patrons usually don’t start showing up until 10 p.m., he added.
“We’ll never make everybody happy,” Roberts said. “In 2008 I brought plans down to the council (to address the noise issue).”
Later, he volunteered to put a roof over the beer garden, but he was told he would have to install a compression sprinkler system, which is expensive, he added.
It was unclear Thursday night whether the proposed ordinance revision would apply to Rollin’ on the River, which is held every August in Victory Park along the riverfront. A spokesman for the festival said having to stop the blues music by 11 p.m. would hurt the event. The music usually is over by midnight, the spokesman added.
Several people spoke in support of Roberts.
“This is getting to be the annual dog feces discussion,” said another Main Street businessman, Tom Frey. “This council has better things to do with its time.”
“Something has got to give here, people,” said Tracy Grisham, who said his band was told about three weeks to stop playing at a birthday party at 5 p.m. after a complaint was filed with the police.
Police Chief Dave Hinton said the Grisham case fell under the state code dealing with disturbing the peace.
Doug George, who said he has played in several bands, added complaints have been made at 10 and 11 p.m. about the noise level at L-Treyns. Earlier in the workshop, Oliver said he has usually called to complain around 1 a.m.
Trish Merydith told the council the cutoff time should remain at 1 a.m.
Matt Vigen, who works the second shift, said 1 a.m. “is not a big deal.”
Former council member Karole Smith recalled the previous discussions about the noise issue, which led the council to move up the cutoff time from 2 to 1 a.m. as a compromise.
“We need to support businesses and it looks like there is a large group of people here in support (of Roberts),” Smith said. “In the summer time especially, it may be 11 p.m. before people get there.”
Council member Ron Payne, who has advocated an earlier cutoff time, had no comment about the issue during the workshop. However, at the end of the regular meeting, he said, “I’ll consider older as well as younger people. “People who have lived here 40 and 50 years and paid taxes deserve consideration, too.”
The proposed ordinance provided that “no person shall operate an outdoor music and/or entertainment event of any type between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday through Saturday in any place where beer, wine or alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises.”
Before the first reading of the proposal could be voted on, council member Susan Dunek amended it to change the time to 12:30 a.m. all days of the week, with council member Roger Bryant seconding the amendment.
However, only Dunek and Bryant supported the amendment. Council members Mike O’Connor, Mike Moore, Payne, Zane Zirkel, Larry Mortimer, John Helenthal and Sandy Pollitt voted no.
That led Helenthal to offer another amendment calling for a midnight cutoff, with Payne seconding.
Only Helenthal, Payne, Zirkel and Pollitt supported midnight.
At that point, Moore commented, “This is somebody’s business we’re messing with. We need to think about what we’re doing before we make big changes.”
A vote on the original version of the ordinance lost 6-3, with only Payne, Zirkel and Pollitt voting for it.
In a related matter, the council approved the first reading or an ordinance dealing with disturbing the peace that mirrors the state code. In part, it says “no person shall make a loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of any residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants thereof.”
O’Connor, chair of the Code Revision Subcommittee, has called the existing ordinance that concerns disturbing the peace ambiguous and unenforceable.
Under the proposed ordinance that reflects the state code, the court, in essence, would become the mediator in cases of disturbing the peace.
In other business, the council:
Renewed a Class C liquor license with Sunday sales for Fiesta Jalisco.
Reappointed Ellen Corr to the Housing Authority Board.
Authorized the public works director to buy a 1997 Chevrolet P-30 step side truck costing up to $5,450 for the Sewer Department. The vehicle has been driven 75,000 miles.
Look for more information about Thursday’s council meeting in Monday’s Daily Gate City.