Dole Mansion gets nod for updated events permit, over objections of some Crystal Lake neighbors

Measure must still win City Council OK

Customers peruse the goods at the farmers market outside the Dole Mansion on Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Crystal Lake.  The farmers market is new to the Dole this year, having never had one there before this month.

The Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously approved a text amendment that allows the Dole Mansion to host community and art events, including the seasonal farmers market that has drawn negative reception from some neighbors.

The Dole came before the commission as operators seek an amendment to its special use permit that would create a new “community and art center” use for the property. Neighbors worry that would result in even more events at The Dole amid claims it’s already exceeding its allowed uses.

The special use sought by the nonprofit Lakeside Legacy Foundation, which operates The Dole property and its events, would allow indoor live music and outdoor events with limits on decibels and times. The nonprofit relies on events to restore the historic 159-year-old building, Lakeside Legacy Foundation Board President Jay LeCoque said.

Commissioners approved the text amendment and special use permit requests 6-0 with multiple conditions that aim to mitigate traffic in the quiet single-family residential area. The measure must still win approval by the Crystal Lake City Council.

The outdoor Farmers Market has been the main subject of concern, with residents who’ve said they were supportive of The Dole in the past citing the market’s recent expansion in scope. The Dole’s website,, touts the event as “so much more” than a farmers market and one of the top events of its kind in the state, with food trucks, live music, kids activities and “bar beverages.”

The open-air market “offers added attractions to appeal to a wider audience,” the website touts.

In 2022, Lakeside Legacy was granted an amendment to its special use permit to allow for “community focused annual events and music venues for Dole Porch Music, Farmers Market, Music under the Trees, and the Listening Room outside music,” according to a city document.

The foundation requested a continuance from the originally scheduled June 19 meeting to address resident comments and concerns voiced at the meeting in May, planning and zoning commissioner Jeff Greenman said.

Since the initial meeting in May, the city conducted a traffic study during the markets last month. From an engineering perspective, the traffic is below the capacity of 1,200 to 1,400 cars per hour on the area roads, Public Works Director Michael Magnuson said. Country Club Road between Lake Avenue and Ringling Road sees an average 450 cars per hour during the markets, according to the traffic study. But that number is a 300% increase compared to non-market days.

Conditions in the approved request require The Dole to add more bicycle parking, more parking attendants, a designated dropoff and pickup zone and to continuously work with the city on further traffic mitigation tactics.

Some neighboring residents argued traffic control isn’t necessarily the problem, but rather the amount of cars in the neighborhood. A typical day sees about one car per minute and it increases to 16 cars per minute during the farmers market, resident Will Ander said.

Crystal Lake resident Will Ander speaks about traffic concerns during the Dole farmers market events during a planning and zoning meeting on July 8, 2024.

“The key issue is the number of vehicles in circulation,” he said. “Not parking spaces, not improving the delay.”

Resident David Mazurk said all of the food trucks in front of his house feels like the Lakeside Festival every weekend. The annual festival that has food, music and a carnival brings in about 30,000 attendees over the July 4 weekend. A typical farmers market event draws in 2,000 attendees at the most, LeCoque said. He said he is willing to continue working with neighbors and can change the layout of the food trucks.

“This is intrusive,” Mazurk said. “I don’t want to see this every Sunday. It’s too much.”

Approval for the Lakeside Festival will remain separate as it requires a special event permit that is allowed annually, Crystal Lake Community Development Director Kathryn Cowlin said.

The city has also received scores of letters in support of The Dole’s request, many touting the contributions the foundation has made to the community, both in direct support and in how it enhances arts and culture. A petition created by resident Mary Ann Johnson garnered over 250 signatures supporting the farmers market at The Dole.

“The hard work and determination and commitment of the current Dole team brought this over-100-year-old historical landmark to life again,” Johnson said. “Don’t let Crystal Lake lose such an important part of its history and identity.”

Approving the request does not make it a done deal. Greenman said the Lakeside Legacy Foundation will need to have ongoing conversations with neighbors as they continue to hold events.

“We’re not going to solve everything,” Greenman said. “I think you’ve made significant strides and it is going to be a moving target because they’re residents. They are impacted every single time you have an event.”

City Council will have the final vote on the matter on July 16.

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