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Fox River Grove approves home-tour rules

Fox River Grove adopts ordinance

Bettendorf Castle
Bettendorf Castle

FOX RIVER GROVE – Home tours of architectural or historically significant houses in the village are allowed, but there are now conditions in place.

The Village Board on Thursday adopted an ordinance that requires people who give home tours to obtain a special-use permit.

Special-use permits are approved or denied by the Village Board.

Under the rules that were approved, a home tour is identified as use of an owner-occupied residence or property with special architectural or historical significance for either home tours or special community-related events or activities, or both, that involve members of the public, whether any fee or donation is involved.

Home-tour rules do not apply to showing a residence or a property to potential purchasers or renters under the proposal.

People who give home tours would have to submit a parking and traffic plan and a calendar of proposed events and activities. There could be limitations on hours, the number of tours and the number of people allowed to participate in the tours.

Signage and other advertising would be restricted, and there would be periodic inspections by the village.       

Residential property owners giving tours became an issue in recent years when the village filed charges alleging that Bettendorf Castle owner Michael Strohl had violated residential zoning rules by inviting visitors to his home for a tour. Strohl was found not guilty.

Bettendorf Castle is a house and grounds modeled after a castle in Luxembourg that includes turrets, a drawbridge and a dungeon.

Board members said the ordinance, which included updates on home occupation rules, was not specially written for the Bettendorf Castle. Trustee Michael Schiestel said the ordinance addresses part of the castle issue.

Village President Robert Nunamaker said the village’s ordinances were previously silent on home tours.

“We believe it’s fair and works for the whole village,” Nunamaker said. “Time will tell.”
Julie Tappendorf, an attorney for Ancel Glink, was hired by the village to assist in writing the ordinance.

“The ordinance is very clear of what’s allowed, what the process is if you want to have a home tour or these related community uses,” Tappendorf said.

She said Oak Park has a similar ordinance regulating home tours and requiring special-use permits. Tappendorf said she is not aware if that ordinance has been challenged.
Robert Hanlon, attorney for the Strohls, would not comment Thursday on whether his clients planned to file suit against the village, but criticized the new rules.

“Unfortunately the village of Fox River Grove officials have apparently decided ... that my clients’ First Amendment rights to assemble don’t appear to be wanted in Fox River Grove,” Hanlon said. “For whatever the reason, the village of Fox River Grove wants to trample on my clients’ rights.”

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