Niles to consider earlier ending times for Riverfront Amphitheater events

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

 NILES — Special events at the Riverfront Amphitheater could have earlier ending times next year. That recommendation came from Niles City Councilwoman Georgia Boggs at a brief informal event committee meeting Monday night. 

Boggs and Councilman William Weimer spoke briefly with City Administrator Ric Huff after the regular council meeting. The other event committee member, Councilman John DiConstanzo, was absent Monday. 

Boggs suggested a 9 p.m. ending time for downtown festivals at the amphitheater after Huff said the city had received complaints from residents of the apartment complex at Third and Broadway. The city has been telling festival and special event organizers that music and noise has to end by 10 p.m. 

Huff said no noise complaints have been received about the weekly concert series which normally end by 8 p.m. He said the complaints have been made about the bigger events such as the Bluegrass Festival, the Burn Run and Riverfest. 

He suggested limiting how late the music can go at these festivals to be the best solution as more than one group contacted about lowering the volume have said they are unwilling to voluntarily turn down the music. He said police have been involved in trying to address the issue after receiving complaints from residents. 

Huff said the final decision as to when the music has to stop at these larger festivals will ultimately be up to the City Council. That would likely be next year as no more major festivals are on the schedule for this year. 

Monday’s City Council meeting featured action on advancing a new Niles housing development on the city’s south side. Council members also approved the new 2024 city budget and other items. 

Council members heard about the development three weeks ago at a Committee of the Whole workshop session. Wolverine Holdings and their partners plan to build a multi-million dollar 48-unit apartment building at 421 Fort St. The project has previously been recommended for approval by the Planning Commission. 

Developers are asking for a residential facilities exemption act tax abatement for the project. Huff said the state law on such abatements allows a municipality to grant a temporary property tax abatement. He said it’s similar to the abatement process for obsolete properties and freezes the current property value for a negotiated period of time. 

The step taken at Monday’s meeting allows city staff to start the process of establishing a residential facilities exemption including providing public notices to establish the residential district in advance of the council taking action on establishing it. 

Pat Matthews from Wolverine Holdings spoke at the start of the meeting and said 15 units will be reserved for lower income residents. He said getting the tax abatement will mean the difference between the project being profitable or not. 

Also Monday, council members approved the new 2024 budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 and the city’s Community Development Block Grant annual action plan. A public hearing on the budget at the start of the meeting drew no public comments. 

Council member Michael Thompson voted no on the action plan. He said he’d rather see the CDBG funds set aside in the plan for code enforcement be used to improve sidewalks and roads in lower income areas.  

Huff said that there’s a limited amount of CDBG funds that can be used on such projects. He added that the dollars set aside for code enforcement helps offset fire department costs and allows the city to keep a full time fire department.