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Fox River Grove zoning board to consider permit for Bettendorf Castle tours

The owner of Bettendorf Castle in Fox River Grove is asking the village for a special use permit that would allow him to give public tours of the McHenry County landmark.
The owner of Bettendorf Castle in Fox River Grove is asking the village for a special use permit that would allow him to give public tours of the McHenry County landmark.

The owner of Bettendorf Castle in Fox River Grove is asking the village for a special use permit that would allow him to give public tours of the McHenry County landmark.

The Fox River Grove Zoning Board of Appeals will hear a petition from owner Michael Strohl at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Village Hall, 305 Illinois St., Fox River Grove.

The board’s recommendation will be passed on to the Committee of the Whole, and trustees will decide whether to grant Strohl the permit. In 2013, the Village Board adopted an ordinance that requires people who give home tours to obtain a special use permit. Home tours of architectural or historically significant houses in the village are allowed under village rules.

The house tour rules of the ordinance would not apply if Strohl were to show the castle to potential buyers or renters. As part of the ordinance, Strohl is required to submit a parking and traffic plan, as well as a calendar of proposed events.

The last time Bettendorf Castle owners applied for the permit, in 2011, they ran into problems regarding parking, Strohl said, and the request was withdrawn. In 2012, Strohl was found not guilty of violating Fox River Grove ordinances when he allowed busloads of visitors onto his property in the summer. This time, Strohl plans to use off-site parking and a shuttle transportation service.

Village President Robert Nunamaker said the village received at least three emails from residents urging officials to be cautious when making their decision and to keep the peace of the residential area in mind.

For now, the castle is closed. Strohl said allowing public tours would help generate more income, which will go toward maintenance of the deteriorating castle walls.

“We need to maintain upkeep of the concrete, turrets and walls,” Strohl said. “If we lose income, we lose the castle.”

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