Stone House Park Set to Reopen


Stone House Park in rural southern DeKalb County was given the go-ahead to reopen the park at Wednesday night’s County Planning and Zoning Committee meeting under their old Special Use Permit. No use of structures is allowed, however, unless fully permitted including occupancy permits for the Stone House, barns and construction trailers on the property.

At a hearing in late 2011 the park was ordered to close temporarily due to unattended code violations. Owners Gregg Larson and Steve Cecchin stated that they had dealt with some of the issues already and agreed to get all of the Health Department’s concerns addressed.

Larson and Cecchin are requesting an amendment to their Special Use Permit. Changes proposed include a reduction in the number of cabins to be constructed, allowing for year-round use and storage of RVs and container trailers, and a revised construction schedule for use of existing structures on the subject property.

The most controversial of the changes proposed is to increase the capacity to 2,000 overnight and 4,000 daytime guests. Neighbors who spoke at the February 9th public hearing were mainly concerned about “curfew, capacity and control,” and complained that the large festivals last year brought a plethora of problems for the Rollo area.

The Planning and Zoning Committee discussed at length concerning hearing officer Klien’s recommendation of a maximum of 500 guests. Larson and Cecchin argued that number would not allow them to make the business work. Festivals last year at the park held 1,500 people and are expected to grow over the years.

Planning and Zoning Director, Paul Miller, instructed the committee that if they were considering the 4,000 number, the item should be brought back for another public hearing to let neighbors speak on the issue as well as other proposed changes to the conditions.

Other changes include a ‘quiet time’ at midnight as well as allowing the petitioner 120 days from issuance of the amended Special Use Permit to secure financing and allowing eight, large scale music festivals during the summer months, June 15th through September 15th.

The next available date for the Public Hearing is March 22nd, according to Paul Miller, with a Planning and Zoning meeting in April. This timeline would not allow the issue to come to the County Board for a vote until May 16th.

Larson reminded the committee that he still held a Special Use Permit and was complying with codes and asked to be allowed to reopen the park under his old permit. Miller and the committee agreed to let the park re-open as long as no use of specified structures take place until fully permitted.

Widows Peak is the next music festival advertised at Stone House Park. It is a weekend event to begin May 18.

Editors Note: Grace Mott was an owner of Stone House Park from 1990 -2000. 


  1. SHP, we moved out to this aera 3 years ago to enjoy the quiet life, When we first moved I had to question “Oh what the heck kind of place is that” looking at SHP then I was happy to see that you guys are trying to clean up the eye sore, but now you are gonna trash our wonderful living space with LOUD MUSIC, and cops driving up and down our country roads just to keep US safe. Not to forget the drugs, and lack of showers on your campground, underage drinking by kids camping there overnight and people stopping at our house asking for directions we are only about 2 miles away, but why should my personal proptery be exposed to your greed do you pay for my house insurance NO I do and I think its a risk and to be safe we must keep our garage doors closed just so people cant see inside them. Its a long way to the hospital from out here also, do you have proper employees to treat a person overdosing,fighting what ever could happen to someone or are you willing to have them transported 30 min to the nearest hospital I wouldnt want anything to happen to anyones kid coming to the country for a music venu! I havent even brought up the point that we dont have AC, we sleep with our windows open hummmm 0300, 0400 music playing you are not being very neighborly!!!!

  2. @Robert: ‘Unsettling’ is a good comment. Anette: Stating fact, and keeping emotion in check is the correct thing to do. @ Kimberly: ‘Family oriented’ might be a bit of a stretch (read below). As for ‘local’ hires: We’re very short staffed.. (read below)

    Our first visit to SHP was in August of 2011, for a relaxing ‘camping’ weekend, spontaneous. We absolutley fell in love with the serenity, the stars, the solice of peace. I have to submit that we’ve also been involved with both SHP (Sept and Nov 2011) AND Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, for several events. (We’re food vendors for outdoor events). Both locations are spooling up to offer ‘events’ to generate operating costs, and revenue. Twin lakes has an annual event of 30,000 or more (recent research has shown that the “Country Thunder” event is going to grow significantly, in Twin Lakes.) SHP and the coordinators are not planning any such event. Our ‘friends’ at Twin Lakes have informed us as possible large ‘vending’ events, each year, at [their] venue.

    The ‘peace’ that we found at SHP in August was exceptional. Dark skies, warm campfires, a tent that was difficult, and several loud “BLAM BLAM” from the filming of “Superman” explosive charges in neighboring Plano. Our trip thru Plano was met with banners and marquis of ‘SUPERMAN” all over the place. Even outside town, people had ‘”S” imprinted on their vehicles. (Maybe the filming made the town some money?)

    From the recent involvement we’ve had at SHP, it’s quite obvious that the owner(s) are going far and wide to accomidate ALL the issues of local residents, just to have a chance to generate improvement and survival expenses, and at the same time, expose the park to new visitors. (And [it’s] history). We’ve seen exceptional improvement with re-hab of the buildings, park clean-up, plans to remove derelict items,
    and containing the park with barriers to inhibit random acts of particpants (and to also allow secure admission for events). As for people wandering into subdivisions, Twin lakes has that. (Homes Within 1/2 mile or less, plus business attractions within a mile). SHP presents itself as an island (the arrivals will denote a void upon arrival) (We met Chuck and Gloria, immediate neighbors. We’ve since been adopted as son/daughter). Seems that the ‘friend’ factor of your neighborhood allows this…

    We’ve been informed that the environment of any ‘event’ at the park will be under the scrutiny of local officals (paid for, by the park), with zero tollerance. We see this as a ‘plus’. (Family and /or controlled events does not seem a bad thing). @Anette: Fully paid police security, gas and sundries purchases in both Leeland and Paw Paw. Perhaps some local restaurant business, except if our ‘food catering’ business can capture it all. (We’re still going to have to purchase our food from the local grocer(s), and/or fresh produce from the local farmers…This is our mantra… LOCAL source).

    @Robert: 1500 people must have been a single event early in 2011, before our first visit at SHP. The ‘event’ is on the calendar for 2012. We’re a bit amiss, for the menu that we’ve been asked to provide: Fully vegetarian menu, with the stipulation that there will be no alcohol, nor smoking for the event. We’re expecting a humanitarian and nature loving event. (A celebration of life?). 10 days, with the whole event completely contained within the park. From our perspective, [this] sounds like a very warm fuzzy. We’ll need a LOT of local-grown food.

    @Anette: I don’t have any call towards the milk production during events at SHP. We sell food. We provide a little ‘food stand’, with actually, very good food. We also are state certified, and with our experience, know the difference between ‘comfortable’, and ‘outlandish’. We don’t do events that include ‘outlandish’. We operate from a total permanent staff of 2. (myself, and my darling wife) For 99% of our events, we hire. Earlville, Paw Paw, and Leeland seem to offer many options for additional staff. We recruit, interview, train, and certify all our staff. We also pay very well. From our experience, we also work our seasonal events between sow and reap. (I’ve been recently exposed to John Deere, please help me find someone that wants ‘free’ labor for seed-time or harvest time? please?)

    @Robert: We were a part of a ‘wee’ hours event last year. (Food vendors at SHP). After about 11pm, we were done. (tired!!!). From what we have heard, the cut-off will be 11pm. I’d still take anyone up on an all-nighter combine drive. (Harvest time is the best). Again, our food sales go from sow to reap. (As would be the same for the park).

    @Kimberly: The ‘Park’ as it once was, [was] a congomeration of derelict RV’s, very loud boom-box music until wee hours, illicit drugs (including the caretaker of the park), and stoic abberations of a total lack of acceptance. (I have this as first-hand conveyance of a close relative). I feel that our experience with the current management of events at the park (And our involvement with food vending), is a far square-dance step in better.

    In finishing, ….. [we] have been to your neighborhood. WE LOVE IT. We’re not total city-folk, but at times, I work in the loop, or take the subway. We do most of our work in Batavia, Hampshire, Plainfield, Hoffman Estates, Maple Park. We have seen the stars in your skies. We’ve not seen our feet on a dark-moon night.

    I’m from the 60’s… Family, fishing, cabins. I’ve seen the crowds come to SHP, with some of the similar appreciation. Nobody leaves without a memory. You, as neighbors, are in ownership of the most beautiful surroundings. Stone House Park has been the rolling-hills, nature capture of every time we’ve visited. If you had a museum piece willing to share, this is it.

    We are campainging towards our possibility of vending food at ‘SHP’ events in 2012. Grant us this opportunity. Thank you.

    I am willing to receive and respond to any comments.

    • Cary Budach, allow me to address some of your comments.
      “We are campainging towards our possibility of vending food at ‘SHP’ events in 2012. ”
      Excellent opportunity for you to engage in commerce from the events held at Stone House Park ! Certainly, this will add to the gross economic output for DeKalb county if you are a DeKalb county business, pay DeKalb county sales tax associated with SHP vending, and purchase your supplies at DeKalb county businesses. Unfortunately, we at the extremely local level don’t stand to gain any revenue from the planned festivals at this point in time. We do stand to “gain” potential problems associated with an influx of thousands of people in our rural community. Of course you support the expansion of events at Stone House Park because you stand to gain financially from the events.

      “We were a part of a ‘wee’ hours event last year. (Food vendors at SHP). After about 11pm, we were done. (tired!!!).”
      11 PM qualifies as the late hours of the night in my opinion. Wee hours of the morning is well after midnight when the rock and roll of amplified music continued. This was disruptive of the serenity in our neighborhood.

      ” For 99% of our events, we hire. Earlville, Paw Paw, and Leeland seem to offer many options for additional staff.” “@Anette: Fully paid police security, gas and sundries purchases in both Leeland and Paw Paw.”

      Earlville is LaSalle county. Leland is LaSalle county. Paw Paw is Lee county. Commerce in surrounding counties. Unfortunately, that is not DeKalb county. Too bad Rollo / Paw Paw Township has no business entities to reap the benefits of commerce and contribute to the revenue of the local area and DeKalb county. Get the word out early and you might be able to employ some folks from the Rollo area to assist in staffing your vending.

      “@Robert: 1500 people must have been a single event early in 2011, before our first visit at SHP.”
      Apparently it was.This past summer there were numerous three day festivals such as ShoeFest and The Chicago Peace Fest where there were at least that many attendees. The festival website published almost round the clock stage times for the three stages. Last stage call for those events was 4 AM.
      Future events could draw 4000, and expected to grow over the years. I ponder this concept frequently, and the ramifications it could have for the rural area and the peace enjoyed here.

      “We absolutley fell in love with the serenity, the stars, the solice of peace.”
      Thank you, Cary ! We love our homeland. We cherish our serenity and the solace of peace. Some of us find that serenity and solace of peace shattered when the amplified music beats on during the quiet summer nights. Some of us find the traffic pattern greatly different, and surprising, with the influx of a great many vehicles traveling our rural roads. Consider this: suppose 4000 people show up for an event. Lets say 4 persons ride per vehicle. That means 1000 vehicles will arrive at Stone House Park for that event. I have to wonder if the drivers of said vehicles will be aware of the agricultural implements we use on those very same rural byways and take the proper precautions to avoid conflict. It is possible that 3 seconds of distraction by a driver not acutely aware of agricultural traffic could lead to an accident that would prove extremely costly to a farmer and could be bad for the health of occupants in a vehicle much smaller than farm equipment. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

      Cary, what I see here is owners of Stone House Park who are not residents of the Rollo area nor even DeKalb County inviting Game On Dawg to vend their events. I don’t see any upside for the Rollo people, I only see the potential problems associated with thousands of concert goers descending on our country community and disrupting our quiet rural way of life.

      In summary, Cary, I am not opposed to the quiet festivals held at Stone House Park that promote the warm and fuzzy. I am not opposed to commerce that generates revenue for DeKalb county. I am opposed to the potential hazards and disruption to our peace and quiet brought on by the music “festivals” that can GROW OVER THE YEARS. I am trying to look into the future well beyond the current year and anticipate the plethora of challenges our little community might face should a precedent be allowed to take place.

  3. Interesting, “the large festivals last year brought a plethora of problems for the Rollo area”.

    More interesting, “Festivals last year at the park held 1,500 people and are expected to grow over the years.” “The most controversial of the changes proposed is to increase the capacity to 2,000 overnight and 4,000 daytime guests.”

    Is it possible that more people, and expected to GROW over the years, could lead to yet more problems for the quiet farm community of Rollo ? It would seem that a once placid camping park amid a country setting in the far southwestern corner of the county is set to evolve to a somewhat large scale musical venue, a venue that rocked and rolled too the very wee hours of the morning last year. This trend appears unsettling.

    I am not in favor of the proposed changes. I have to wonder if the County Planning and Zoning Committee and the County Board are too detached from the Rollo community to render a just decision in this matter at this point in time.

  4. I should add if those opposed are attending meetings to state their case, try to keep the emotion out of it and come prepared with facts–after covering meetings for 25 years I can tell you yelling and swearing won’t help your case. Bring facts. Bring photos. Do your homework. Use the local media to your advantage, letters to the editor-interviews–call the chicago TV stations–all they can say is no. Good luck.

  5. There are many things to consider, including the cost of increased law enforcement presence. Twin Lakes,Wis. gets hit with Country Thunder every July. Well over 50,000 people a day arrive–many stay and camp. There are police officers and rescue squad presence on the property during the entire 5 day event. At the main intersections generators and temporary lightning is brought in to make travel safer. Due to the time of year it can be extremely hot; mix that with drinking and you have problems. Neighbors complain of the noise and there is a curfews in the camp grounds. There have been some sexual assaults and fights. Police have done a pretty good job of keeping a lid on it but it could get out of hand without the police there. Local dairy farmers see their milk production drop during this time. The venue makes a generous annual donation to the county sheriff’s department as well as other local entities that provide services. Local businesses do not see much of an increase in business because those who camp, bring their own and those who don’t are for the most part smart enough not to transport booze with them. Restaurants do get a little bit more business.
    The event has been held in Twin Lakes for more than 10 years and there have been historic grid locks of traffic in the past. After trail and error the venue added new entrances, taking the pressure off of local roads and that cut down on traffic greatly. There are still problems with people wandering into subdivisions, littering, theft from property closest to the grounds and drunks trying to bath in local lakes. The venue made good progress in keeping the crowds controlled in recent years. It will still impact local municipalities and the county, cost wise. There is much to consider. This venue attracts people of all ages and lots of young people come to camp and raise hell. It’s a full time job and when it’s over there is a sigh of relief. I hope they give them a conditional permit with the right to demand changes or have the ability to pull the plug after one year. No one will know for sure what happens until they go through it once but I hope county officials have read the small print. There is power in numbers and residents should document everything so they can state their case if they need to. photos are worth their weight in gold.

  6. WHAT was the County & Zoning Committee thinking? Stonehouse Park is no longer the family oriented campground it once was. The owners are attempting to establish a concert venue the size of Gibson (aka Universal) Amphitheater at City Walk in LA in a tiny rural area zoned for agri-business. The owners have made no attempt to listen to the local resident’s concerns. They have hired NO locals in their business, unless you count using The House’s liquor license to sell alcohol at the events.
    As a HUGE music fan and concert attendee I am absolutely opposed to the change of business type for this venue.