Fox River Grove officials have approved a special permit for the owner of Bettendorf Castle to give public tours of the McHenry County landmark.
After some debate and discussion about what behavior the permit would allow, trustees voted, 4-2, to grant the permit. Trustees Suzanne Blohm, Jennifer Curtiss, Steve Knar and Patrick Wall voted in favor of the measure, and Trustees Jacob Fleischmann and Andrew Migdal voted against it.
In July, the Committee of the Whole recommended 12 additional conditions to owner Michael Strohl’s petition for a special use permit for house tours.
According to the original list, Strohl would have been allowed to host five tours a month from April to September. The board amended that condition to allow Strohl to operate from May 1 to Oct. 31.
The permit limits tours to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with a maximum capacity of 60 people. The castle also is allowed to host holiday events for Easter with a maximum capacity of 200 people.
The original permit allowed a second holiday event on Halloween. Knar said Concord Avenue – where the castle is located – would be too busy with the foot traffic of children trick-or-treating to allow Strohl to give tours on Halloween.
The owners will not be allowed to serve alcohol or box lunches during these events, and attendees must use off-site parking and a shuttle transportation service.
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time the Bettendorf Castle owner applied for a permit, in 2011, problems regarding parking arose, and the request was withdrawn.