Officials of Temple Har Zion are likely to be given permission by River Forest to hang an oversize banner on the exterior of their building but village officials had to go through a few hoops and over a few hurdles to make it possible.

The village board cleared the final hurdle at the July 13 virtual meeting, unanimously approving changes to the village sign ordinance that will provide staff members with the authority to approve the temple officials’ request.

Village Administrator Eric Palm said when temple officials requested the addition of a sign measuring approximately 300-inches-by-66-inches on the front of their building at 1040 N. Harlem Ave., staff members realized the village did  not have any sign regulations for buildings within the public, recreational and institutional (PRI) zoning district as all previous sign requests in that zoning district had been handled through planned development permits. 

Jackie Wells of Houseal Lavigne, the village’s planning consultant, recommended mirroring the C2 zoning district regulations with regulations for the PRI but staff members determined that the request by temple officials would not meet the new criteria but realized that the village sign ordinance does not include a mechanism to allow sign permit applicants to seek relief from established standards. The C2 district includes retail, office, service uses and multi-family. 

After further consultation, staff members determined that a mechanism should be put in place to allow further consideration of minor and major requests. Staff members would be authorized to grant approval for minor variations, such as the temple officials’, but major variations would need approval of the zoning board of appeals and village board.

Under the ordinance change, a minor variation request would be for up to a 10 percent increase in individual sign area limitations for all structural sign types with the exception of walls signs and an increase in the area of a wall sign in excess of the maximum square footage of wall sign area permitted in the district in which the sign shall be located but less than or equal to 5 percent of the wall to which the sign should be affixed. A major variation request would be for an increase greater than 10 percent in individual sign area limitations for all structural sign types with the exception of wall signs; an increase in the area of a wall sign in excess of the maximum square footage of wall sign area permitted in the district in which the sign to be located and in excess of 5 percent of the wall to which the sign shall be affixed; and an increase in the total area of all signs permitted on a zoning lot. 

Under this scenario, Palm explained, temple officials will be allowed to seek a minor variation for their sign, as the sign request would be within the 5 percent of the total square footage to which the sign would be affixed, indicating that staff members would approve the request.

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