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Local News

Joliet council to vote on bounce house limits again

Kids play in a bounce house during Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, at Nowell Park in Joliet, Ill.
Kids play in a bounce house during Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, at Nowell Park in Joliet, Ill.

JOLIET – Bounce houses will be back on the agenda after a Joliet City Council committee this week approved a new approach to keeping them from standing in front yards too long.

The full City Council in July would not take up a previous proposal to ban bounce houses from front yards, with some members questioning whether it was needed at all.

The Land Use and Legislative Committee on Tuesday decided to try again with a proposal that would allow bounce houses in front and side yards, but only for 48 hours.

Councilmember Jan Quillman said she heard complaints about bounce houses being left out too long and becoming unsightly.

“It’s not that it’s going to happen all the time, but people out there abuse things,” Quillman said. “Neighbors don’t like bounce houses in the front yard.”

The committee turned down an original suggestion from staff that the city require permits for bounce houses.

Director of Planning Michael Schwarz suggested permits as a way of keeping track of how long the bounce houses are up.

“Without a permit, there’s no way of knowing when it went up,” he said.

Schwarz and Interim City Attorney Chris Regis also noted that although the city could enact an ordinance, it would be difficult to devote staff time to enforcement.

“The issue with anything like this is enforcement,” Regis said. “We have ordinances out there like the one on banner flags. There’s no one out there to enforce it. ... If we want to pass an ordinance on a 48-hour time limit, that’s fine. But we have to be realistic about our expectations.”

Even so, Quillman said, an ordinance on the books would give the city some ability to act on long-standing bounce houses in front yards.

“It just gives us something to fall back on if there’s abuse,” she said.

Schwarz said that staff likely would start the 48-hour clock on a bounce house from the time that a complaint is made to city hall, since there would be no other way to verify when it went up without permits being issued.

Joliet does not now have any ordinance mentioning bounce houses. When Quillman raised the matter, bounce houses were added to an existing ordinance that restricted trampolines to backyards. But the council refused to vote on it.

The committee voted, 3-0, to recommend approval of the rewritten bounce house rules. But the full council would have to approve it for it to become a city ordinance.

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