Graffiti ordinance adopted

Oak Park put an ordinance in play Monday that will make life a lot harder for graffiti bandits, and possibly their parents.

The new law offers a variety of ways to battle spray painting in the community, which officials say is an escalating problem.

The number of reported graffiti incidents jumped in the last three years from 76 to 179 to 246, according to Community Relations Director Cedric Melton.

The major provision in the new law is barring minors from buying graffiti products in Oak Park, except with parental consent. Those who violate the law must pay $250 or do community service. A minor’s parent is held liable for the fine or has to attend half the community service.

The law also requires property owners to remove graffiti from their buildings within seven days of receiving a notice from the village. After that time, the village can remove it and bill the owner. Oak Park also has the option to place a lien on someone’s property if it doesn’t get payment for the costs in a certain number of days.

Minors also are prohibited from bringing graffiti products-spray paint, paint sticks and thick-tipped permanent markers-near such public properties as schools and parks.

The City of Chicago completely bans the products, but Village Attorney Ray Heise said he didn’t want Oak Park to go in that direction. However, anyone selling graffiti products must either keep them locked up or in plain sight of the cash register at all times.

The village may also institute a program to raise awareness about graffiti here.

High school turns in lights application

Oak Park and River Forest High School turned in a complete application last week to install lights at its stadium.

The school wants to install four 100-foot light poles and is seeking a special use permit and zoning text amendment to do so.

The village board referred the application to Oak Park’s Plan Commission on Monday. Officials said it’s common practice to send text amendments there, rather than back to the zoning board of appeals. The ZBA ruled 3-3 on a previous application for lights back in February.

Village Planner Craig Failor said the plan commission will hold a public hearing on the application at its meeting July 17. It will take all new testimony from both sides since the application has different requirements. The request will likely take multiple meetings to decide, Failor said.

The plan commission is an advisory body. So any decision it makes on the lights would be referred back to the village board for the final word.

Two neighbors spoke against the lights during public comment. They urged the high school to pay for a study which determines the lights’ impact on the neighborhood.

Village President David Pope agreed with the idea, and officials urged all parties involved to work together in choosing a fair consultant.

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

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