By SAMANTHA PIDDE
The Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) issued a 13-page opinion Thursday, Jan. 21, regarding a noise complaint against James "Henry" Meador, owner of Henry's Double K, 834 S. Jackson St., Mount Carroll.
The IPCB found in favor of complainants, James and Cheryl Fiser, 842 S. Jackson St. James Fiser died Nov. 22, 2020.
The Fisers, who have resided in their home since 2005, complained about alleged noise violations by Henry's Double K since not long after the restaurant-bar opened in 2013. After bringing the matter to the city, a noise ordinance was created for live music in Mount Carroll. The Fisers contended the ordinance noise limit of 70 decibels was still too high.
The Fisers eventually filed a complaint against Meador with the IPCB, stating his weekend music violated a code related to the prohibition of noise pollution. On March 11, 2020, the Fisers, Meador and around 30 persons attended an ICPB public hearing at the Community House.
The Fisers spoke about the hardships they said resulted from the loud music at Henry's. They testified the music created problems sleeping along with other activities, such as watching television. James Fiser testified he had a heart condition and the noise was upsetting.
Meador presented testimony at the hearing on behalf of himself and his business. He and his attorney clarified that the business has no in-house sound system, with each band bringing its own. He said most of the bands consist of country or classic rock, consisting of two or three guitars.
Meador testified that apart from the Fisers, he had only received one other noise complaint since opening, noting he handled that complaint by simply shutting his back door.
"If I'm feeling it's getting too loud, I'll ask the band to turn it down," Meador said at the hearing.
Meador described the noise level along the south side of the restaurant-bar property as "a radio playing at a far distance."
IPCB Hearing Officer Brad Halloran and Chief Environmental Scientist Anand Roa heard all of the testimony from the March hearing, saying a transcript would be presented to the four members of the IPCB for them to make a decision.
After 10 months since the hearing, the IPCB finally published a decision last week, writing, "The Board finds that the noise emissions from Henry's live music have unreasonably interfered with Fiser's enjoyment of life, including disrupting the sleep of Fiser and his wife on numerous occasions."
The IPCB decision concludes that Meador violated the Act *415 ILCS 5/24 (2018)) and the Board's noise pollution regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code 900.102), which prohibit causing nuisance noise.
"However, the Board finds that parties should be afforded a further opportunity to offer evidence regarding appropriate civil penalties or specific abatement measures,” the ruling said. “The Board directs the hearing officer to schedule a remedy hearing to take additional evidence in this matter.”
A date for the remedy hearing has not been set.
According to the board's report, in determining an appropriate civil penalty, the Board can consider the following factors:
•The duration and gravity of the violation.
•The presence or absence of due diligence on the part of the respondent (Meador) in attempting to comply with the requirement of the Act.
•Any economic benefits accrued by the respondent due to the delay of compliance.
•The amount of monetary penalty which will serve to deter further violations by the respondent.
•The number, proximity in time and gravity of previously adjudicated violations of this Act by the respondent.
•Whether the respondent voluntarily self-disclosed, in accordance with subsection (I) of this Section, the non-compliance to the Agency.
•Whether the respondent has agreed to undertake a "supplemental environmental project," meaning an environmentally beneficial project the respondent agrees to, but is not otherwise legally required to perform.
•Whether the respondent has successfully completed a Compliance Commitment Agreement under subsection (a) of Section 31 of this Act to remedy the violations that are the subject of the complaint.