Tri States Public Radio Staff
No Dissenting Votes
Tue March 6, 2012
Macomb Approves Laws to Control Parties
Macomb aldermen unanimously approved four new ordinances designed to control large outdoor parties.
City leaders said the ordinances do not ban large gatherings such as the Wheeler Street block party. In fact, Sixth Ward Alderman Timn Lobdell said the city encourages social gatherings. He said the ordinances are about common sense.
"You're responsible for those who are at your property," Lobdell said. "Whether you rent the property or own the property, you are the legal, responsible party for that property and everything that happens on it."
One of the ordinances deals with "nuisance" parties. A gathering could be declared a nuisance based on any one of 13 criteria, including disorderly conduct, loud noise, and destruction of property.
Western Illinois University student Grant Roon told aldermen he believes the ordinance will allow police to invade the privacy of those who are hosting friends. He also said it would "stifle the social environment of the university," which he called a huge selling point for Western.
"Without the number of students brought here by the university the economy of this town would surely suffer," Roon said.
Fifth ward Alderman Dave Dorsett wouldn't mind seeing Western's image change.
"I would be almost willing to take a chance on having less of a reputation as a place to come for entertainment and more of a place to come for an education," Dorsett said.
Another ordinance deals with mass gatherings, which are considered outdoor events where alcohol is served and more than 150 people are present. A permit must be obtained for a mass gathering and bond must be posted. The ordinance also requires toilets, traffic and parking control plans, and clean up plans. The location must be fenced.
A third ordinance pertains to the failure to disperse and the fourth grants the mayor expanded powers in his role as the city's liquor commissioner.
The ordinances were written in response to last year's out-of-control Wheeler Street block party and students' insistence that the party will take place again this year.
"When you do stupid things, we have stupid ordinances to cover them," said Third Ward Alderman Lou Gilbert.
"I really don't like to see this but you're bringing it on yourself."
City Attorney Kristen Petrie said the same ordinances are in place in other college towns in Illinois.
Fines are up to $750 per violation. Seventh Ward Alderman Clay Hinderliter said that is the maximum allowed for a non-home rule community in Illinois.