Forest Park’s Village Council voted unanimously Aug. 8 to allow amplified music to be played in beer gardens – but only once a month.

The village municipal code previously only allowed bars and restaurants to play acoustic music on an outdoor patio, and establishments had to get entertainment licenses to play it. The amendments specifically limit amplified music to beer gardens, but it still represents a notable change. Commissioner Maria Maxham suggested doing away with the once-a-month limit, but the majority of the council argued that it was a useful guard rail to have while the village gets a chance to see how the new policy works in practice. 

During its July 25 meeting, the village council considered Exit Strategy Brewing Company’s, 7700 Madison St., entertainment license application. The brewery wanted to have a “90s cover band” play on Aug. 13 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. as part of a larger event that would run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Commissioners raised concerns about whether the music was acoustic or amplified, and Commissioner Joe Byrnes suggested that the village should consider allowing amplified sound outdoors.

“Given the fact that the hours aren’t as late as they used to be, maybe the council can allow for amplified outdoor music,” he said.

The council agreed that it was worth considering and decided to postpone the decision on Exit Strategy’s application until Aug. 8. 

During that meeting, the village council not only approved the application, but the municipal code amendments. The new regulations specified that, in this case, “patio” means “beer garden,” explicitly prohibiting music from being played at sidewalk cafes. The establishments also can’t play amplified music on the patio more than one day a month.

Finally, the ordinance states that no entertainment license can be valid for more than a month. While this has become the village council’s standard practice in recent times, it wasn’t codified into law until now.  

Maxham argued that, since the council already reviews all performances on a case-by-case basis as part of the entertainment license application process, it could afford to be more flexible.

“I just feel like this might be a be a bit unnecessarily strict,” she said.

Byrnes argued that caution was warranted, at least at first.

 “We’re just starting to let amplified music out on patios,” he said. “I think we should walk before we run,”

Commissioner Ryan Nero said the village has been considering changing how entertainment licenses are structured, if not doing away with them altogether, so the extra check may not be there. 

“I’m riding with Joe Byrnes on this,” he said. “Let’s roll it out, wait and see what’s going to happen.”