The River Forest village board tabled discussion of changes to local sign laws Monday night after concerns arose regarding both a lack of public input on the issue and possible unintended consequences stemming from changes.
After some 25 minutes of deliberation, trustees agreed to put off any decision on the matter until at least their first March meeting.
Village administrator Charles Biondo will send a letter to schools, churches, the Board of Realtors and the Chamber of Commerce, seeking input from those groups, as well as individual citizens on the matter.
The issue, last addressed in 1990, was brought to the board’s attention by Trustee Patrick O’Brien last September. O’Brien expressed his 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 Avenue.
In October the issue was forwarded to the plan commission, which was charged with reviewing and making recommendations both on temporary signage, such as real estate, political, “school spirit” and special events signs, and permanent signage on buildings and stores.
The proposed amendments to the village’s sign ordinance would both correct long-standing flaws in the language of the law, as well as clarify such details as allowable size, placement, and amount of time signs may be displayed.
“We’ve had an ordinance on the books that was basically unenforceable because it was illegal,” said Village Attorney Jon Gilbert.
Fines for violating the new ordinance would range from $100 to $700, with each day a sign is displayed illegally constituting a separate citable offense.
While O’Brien opined that the proposed ordinance was “a good step forward and a great beginning,” several trustees expressed concern that various unclear details in the proposed amended ordinance would result in protests from business, school and religious groups.
Unless explicitly directed, the plan commission’s deliberations do not require the same public hearings that village board deliberations do, and no public comment had been previously sought.
Biondo suggested that the issue could be put off until March. In the meantime, he said, the plan commission could hold a public hearing and revisit the issue, if, as he put it, “the board wants the fullest possible extent of public input.”
In other matters Monday night, the board:
? Agreed to split the $3,120 cost of a lighting survey by independent lighting expert Hugh Lighting Design with the River Forest Park District. Biondo told the board that village staff is working with parks Executive Director Tom Grundin to coordinate a review of Keystone Park’s east field lighting system, and to schedule a time to conduct the lighting test.
“We expect the analysis by Hugh Lighting Design, LLC, to be completed by the end of February,” Biondo wrote in a memo to board members.
The earliest the Development Review Board could re-address the Keystone West lights issue is now March 16, Biondo said.
? Approved with brief discussion minor variations to both the planned Dominican University parking structure and the academic building. The garage variation will involve shortening the depth of individual parking spaces from 18 feet, 5 inches, to 17 feet, 11 inches. The width will remain unchanged. The academic building variation will allow an increase in its height from 77 feet, 2 inches to 77 feet, 9 inches.
The increase, village staff noted, “would be virtually imperceptible.”
? Voted to go into executive session at 8:25 p.m. for the purpose of discussing pending litigation.
The River Forest village board will address the signage issue at its March 8 meeting, following public input at a plan commission meeting. Proposed changes to the ordinance are:
? Signs of all types and purposes limited to 6 square feet in size (16 sq. ft. currently allowed).
? Only one sign per lot, which may be up for 120 days in each 180-day period, and 240 days total per year.
? Political signs: up to two per lot, 6 square feet in size, for up to 45 days prior to election, and two days after.
? Personal event signs (birthdays, graduations, etc.) allowed up for seven days.
? Holiday signs may be up for 45 days.
? “Attention getting” signs, such as pennants, are prohibited.
? Portable or wheeled signs are prohibited.