After a 1 1/2 hour discussion that involved a bass guitar demonstration, the La Salle City Council decided to make no change to its noise ordinance after it was said the police department had received complaints regarding the noise level at Nick’s on 6. The city ordinance requires establishments to maintain a decibel level lower than 70 during the quiet hours that begin at 10 p.m.
Three proposed changes were brought in front of the council.
The first proposed change presented by Alderman Jim Bacidore requested the city raise the allowable decibel level from 70 to 85 for businesses located south of Third Street.
The second request from Alderman Diz Demes asked the city change the cut off time of allowable amplified music from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The last request was from business owner Gary Hammers, who asked to extend the allowable hours of amplified music from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
After the city discussed the possibility of the three changes to the ordinance, the council voted, 6-2, to keep the ordinance as is.
When Bacidore presented his request to raise the decibel level from 70 to 85, he said Nick’s on 6 has put in effort to limit the noise it produces during live music acts. Hammers bought a $20,000 inflatable band shell in an attempt to limit the noise.
“He even went so far as to buy the big rubber build to try and keep the decibels low,” Bacidore said. “I took my grandson home and I pulled into the alley and there was a police car there. I asked them ‘What’s the matter?’ and they said ‘Oh, I have to come back every so often to check the decibels.’”
Bacidore said the police in La Salle should be able to spend time on duty tracking down and preventing crimes, such as drug dealing and assaults, rather than being required to check the sound level of a live band.
“I’m the one who requested this because if you bring it up to 85 then we won’t have all of this problem,” Bacidore said.
Bacidore also said he believes individuals who call and file a noise complaint should have to attach their name in order to determine the complaint’s validity.
“We want to bring people to La Salle and everybody talks about the lights and how many people it brings to La Salle,” Bacidore said. “They come off the interstate and go through the lights and get back on the interstate. They come on Route 6 they go back on Route 6. This guy brought people downtown.”
Demes, who lives close to Nick’s on 6, said he filed his request to move the quiet hours down one hour from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. after hearing Bacidore’s suggestion to raise the allowable decibel levels.
“I feel that the people, myself and the rest of the neighborhood that are here (Monday) are being retaliated against because we’ve called in,” Demes said. “And it’s harassment.”
Demes credited the commitment and the job the Hammers group has done with the property located on Third and Bucklin streets, but he said he believed the noise level was a problem. He read from the redevelopment agreement and said he believes the group must have had to return to the City Council for approval before changing its plan to host a bar, going on to accuse the bar of not stopping music at the agreed-upon time.
“At no time have you ever stopped at 10 o’clock,” Demes said. “The only time you’ve stopped is when I’ve called or the city brings out a violation. The other thing on here says the decibels can’t be above 70 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and you’ve been at 83 and 84. So you haven’t gone by the ordinance. We have a complaint down there unlike any other complaint that came to this council. Usually we have people come to this council and they say that this bar has music over there and it’s driving me crazy.”
The city then held a decibel demonstration by using a reader and had an individual set up outside of the council chambers who played an increasing noise level to imitate what sound can be heard.
Hammers discredited the demonstration, however, saying he was a hearing aid specialist in La Salle for many years. Hammers said the decibel reading of a single bass guitar playing from just outside the door will register differently than a band playing from an establishment.
“I have to say that it’s not fair to bring a bass guitar against the door and play bass music because it’s not normal decibels of all the music that is being played,” Hammers said.
Hammers requested to extend the hours in which they would be allowed to have live music from 10 to 11 p.m.
Hammers read from the redevelopment agreement and said, per the agreement, he wanted to see the business and the city negotiate in good faith and believed Demes’ request was not. Gary’s son, Nick Hammers, is the owner of Nick’s on 6 and said he believed there to be falsehoods in Demes’ claims against his business.
“He claims that we are playing music three nights a week; that’s never happened,” Nick Hammers said. “He claims that we are playing music from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.; that’s completely false. I’ve gotten multiple calls from officers that have asked us to turn the music down and we always comply.”
Nick Hammers said he is trying to run a business and trying to be courteous to his neighbors, but his bar business has an opportunity to bring people into La Salle on Friday and Saturday nights with live music.
“To take and cut the hours back, I could care less about the decibel level, this isn’t about making the city of La Salle better,” Nick Hammers said. “(Demes) doesn’t care about the city of La Salle, (Demes) cares about himself and that’s what’s wrong about this whole situation. It’s not about the city – it’s about him and he’s doing it for himself and that isn’t right. I’ve done as much as I can to help and not bother him and he is stabbing me in the back and that’s not right.”
Nick Hammers said that in the three months the business has hosted live acts, the events have been higher than the decibel limit once, a time he said he acknowledged and apologized for.
The owner of the Bottles and Barrels Room and Launch Kitchen Eric Pyszka also spoke in favor of the extended hour the Hammers group asked for and said he believes Demes was part of creating the problem.
“You’re in a position of power and really what it’s coming down to is I feel that Mr. Demes is using his place as an alderman to push an agenda through, that betters himself personally,” Pyszka said. “I believe it’s a conflict of interest.”
Mayor Jeff Grove spoke against that claim, saying he has worked with Demes for many years with the city and he believes that is not how Demes operates.
After a back-and-forth between officials and the business owners in attendance, a majority of community members spoke in favor of keeping the ordinance the same, but not extending the hours. Many community members in attendance also said they would be in favor of allowing businesses to apply for special-occasion use exceptions that could include an hours extension on an individual basis.
La Salle resident Ollie Miller was among those in attendance, and she said she believed the spirited discussion between parties went a little too far.
“There shouldn’t be this fighting,” Miller said. “This is embarrassing, actually. It’s embarrassing as a citizen in La Salle.”