Beer gardens could no longer be exempt from noise ordinance

By Gus Bode

To the dismay of beer garden owners, managers and patrons, the Carbondale Liquor Advisory unanimously voted beer gardens should no longer be exempt from the amplified noise ordinance at their Thursday night meeting.

The city’s noise ordinance, which follows Illinois law, states that noise emission, music or otherwise, should not go farther than a person’s property. In Carbondale, which is one of two cities in the United States with such a law, beer gardens are exempt from the amplified noise ordinance, board members said. Madison, Wis., home of the University of Wisconsin, is the other.

The noise from beer gardens has been debated among city council members and city residents for more than a decade.


Tommy Grissom, a landlord with G & R Property, said he has received several complaints from residents about the noise from Pinch Penny Pub’s beer garden, which is directly across the street from his property.

“The general consensus is that people don’t like to be bothered in their home environment,” Grissom said.

Grissom, who rents to 300 people, also presented a wide array of research to the board suggesting that noise is bad for health, impairs learning ability and ruins hearing.

James Chew, who lives a mile and a half from the pub, said the music from live bands often keeps him from a full night’s sleep.

“I can hear it inside my house. It’s waking me up at night,” Chew said.

While residents do call police about the noise, Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum said there is nothing he can do about it. In fact, taking action against the beer gardens would be illegal because of the exemption, he said.

Lawrence Juhlin, chair of the Liquor Advisory Board, said he does not find it fair that private individuals get cited for noise but beer gardens do not.


“Why should a beer garden be singled out?” he said. “That’s not good public relations or citizenship.”

Board member John Benshoff said he believes people have a right to live in a world without pollution, including noise pollution. He also said he didn’t believe bars with beer gardens would go out of business if they were no longer exempt from the law.

However, Pinch Penny Pub owner James Karayiannis and Sidetracks manager Bryan Woodruff are not so sure.

Woodruff said he felt business would be negatively affected.

“Live bands are a big draw in the spring and fall,” he said.

Woodruff also said, however things played out, the bar would simply adjust.

Karayiannis was not as optimistic and said, if approved, the change would affect how he does business, as well as the income of the bar and the jobs it provides.

“It’s a bad decision,” he said. “Students and residents of southern Illinois enjoy seeing live bands in the summer.”

Bryan Haupt, a junior studying advertising from Lockport, said live bands are the reason people go to beer gardens in the first place.

“If we didn’t have live bands, nobody would go to Pinch or Sidetracks in the first place,” he said. “You could still have a fun time and all, but hearing kids rock out at Sidetracks is just awesome.”

Ashlee Tinken, a junior studying art from Brookfield, said Pinch and Sidetracks will definitely suffer and the idea of getting rid of loud music was ridiculous.

“Live bands are productive noise,” she said. “Without them … all hell would break loose.”

Although the board does not have a final say in the matter, board members will make their recommendation to the Liquor Control Commission, an alternate function of the city council. The matter will be discussed at their next meeting Nov. 15.

Reporter Haley Murray can be reached at [email protected]