An unsightly and growing number of “for sale” and “for rent” signs along one stretch of North Harlem Avenue has led to a River Forest village board review of the town’s entire sign ordinance.
The issue came up briefly at a board meeting over the summer but was brought up again last month by Trustee Patrick O’Brien. He expressed displeasure at the appearance of multiple “for sale” and “for rent” signs and other promotional signage on properties along the 1500 block of North Harlem Ave.
Last Monday village resident Dan O’Day addressed the board and underscored O’Brien’s concerns.
“I don’t think I noticed it until the third sign went up,” said O’Day. “Within the last month, six more signs have come up. I can’t tell you how tacky that looks.”
“There’s 12 signs on that block,” O’Brien said.
A visit to the block in question by a reporter Monday determined that there were at least half a dozen for sale signs on the block, including three on one lawn alone, as well as seven or eight for rent signs, plus seven plastic envelopes containing sales material mounted along wrought iron fences.
The issue was last raised among various village departments and was discussed at a “packed” village board meeting back in 1990, according to Village Administrator Chuck Biondo. No action was ever taken by that board, however. Trustee Al Swanson said he’d prefer that the issue be forwarded to the Planning Commission for deliberation, saying, “Let them hold whatever hearings they need to hold, and get back to us with a recommendation. I’d prefer that they come back to us with a recommendation that’s not 15 years out of date.”
Swanson added that the issue wasn’t a minor concern given to superficial discussion, saying, “It’s not a quick, easy decision. It goes to free speech issues.”
O’Brien said he’d like to see the entire ordinance reviewed, and after further discussion, the trustees decided that they would engage in a comprehensive review of all aspects of the ordinance, including both real estate and commercial signage. It’s likely that they will tackle real estate signs first. “Regulating real estate signs isn’t rocket science,” said O’Brien. “I think it’s something we could accomplish with a minimal amount of effort.”
? In other action, the board listened to resident concerns regarding pedestrian safety while crossing Lake Street across from Keystone Park, then voted to approve an ordinance restricting parking on both sides of Lake Street back 40 feet from the corner to improve driver and pedestrian lines of sight.
? The board briefly discussed, then rejected any ordinance that would prohibit property owners from applying for curb cuts in order to install driveways on their property. The ordinance was proposed at the board’s Sept. 12 meeting. Public Works Director Greg Kramer said that a concern had been raised by at least one individual that new driveways might change the character of a neighborhood. The consensus was that there was no valid reason to deny property owners the right to make improvements that the vast majority of village residents would still possess.
? The Oct. 24 meeting will begin a half hour early, at 7 p.m., to allow for the honoring of members of the village’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Oct. 24 is, co-incidentally, the village’s 125th birthday.