Final vote on electronic billboards tabled : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Final vote on electronic billboards tabled |
|Montgomery Board rejects recommendation to continue ban |
|by John Etheredge|
A controversial proposal to amend the Village of Montgomery's sign ordinance to permit electronic LED billboards in the village was tabled by the village board Monday evening.
A motion to table and have village staff further review the proposed amendment was approved in a 5-0 board vote.
Moments earlier the board defeated a motion to accept a plan commission recommendation that the board not amend the sign ordinance to allow electronic billboards as a special use. The board vote on the motion was 3-2.
Voting "no" on the motion to accept the plan commission's recommendation were board members Andy Kaczmarek, Pete Heinz and Denny Lee. Board members Matt Brolley and Stan Bond voted "yes" to accept the recommendation.
Board member Bill Keck was absent from the meeting.
After listening to the board's discussion, Village President Marilyn Michelini recommended the board table the issue-for now.
"I don't think we are in any place to move forward with this," Michelini said.
Prior to voting on the motion to table, board members expressed differing views on how their decision to amend the ordinance would affect the proposed establishment of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district along Orchard Road on the village's west side.
Jeff Zoephel, the village's interim administrator, said one of the property owners along Orchard Road, Don Hamman, told him that he is willing to consider allowing his property to be included in the TIF district if the board amends its sign ordinance to allow Lamar Advertising to install a 12 x 25 electronic LED billboard on his property.
The board instructed village staff in November to review and prepare an amendment to the sign ordinance permitting electronic billboards as a special use in November. The board acted in response to the request from Lamar Advertising to put up its billboard.
As proposed by Lamar Advertising, the billboard would be mounted on a 30 foot tall pole and flash six advertising messages every 10 seconds to passing motorists.
Shawn Pettit of Lamar Advertising has told board members his firm would initially like to install a single-sided sign with messages that could be viewed by northbound traffic on Orchard Road. If there is enough demand from advertisers, the firm would install a second LED display on the north side of the sign that would flash messages to southbound Orchard Road traffic, according to Pettit.
The village would receive no revenues from the billboard.
The billboard would replace a conventional billboard that has stood for years on Hamman's property near the intersection. However, the Kane County Division of Transportation previously purchased the land the current billboard sign now stands on from Hamman as part of the recent widening of Orchard Road. As a result, Hamman has to take down the billboard since the county does not allow signs to stand in their right-of-way.
The board voted in 2006 to prohibit the installation of new billboards in the village as part of an update to the village's sign ordinance. However, those billboards put up prior to 2006 were grandfathered-in under the ordinance.
In order for Lamar to install a new billboard on Hamman's property, the board must now vote to amend the sign ordinance.
Earlier this month, village staff presented a plan to the board to permit the installation of billboards as a special use on property zoned M-2 for manufacturing use.
'painted into a corner'?
Prior to voting on the motions, Brolley said he believed Hamman had "kind of painted us (the board) in a corner" by tying the request for the billboard to the inclusion of his property in the TIF district.
Brolley, however, said he remains opposed to the installation of an electronic billboard at Orchard and Aucutt roads.
Bond noted the village's staff recommendation on the ordinance amendment would only allow for the installation of electronic billboards.
"That, to me, is an issue," he said, adding, "I would far prefer to have the traditional-type billboards and not the electronic digital billboards. At the very least I would like to have both kinds available for choice, but my preference would be to allow only billboards that are illuminated."
Lee said he would like to see the village continue its ban on the installation of new billboards.
However, Lee said he believes the village needs to "listen to the businesses" because "they are the ones that really give us the taxes."
He added that he would like to see village staff negotiate with firms that own existing billboards in the village. Lee said perhaps the village could persuade a firm that owns multiple billboards to take two down in exchange for the installation of a single, electronic billboard.
Lee added that the proposed amendment would limit the installation of any new billboards to properties zoned M-2 only.
"If they can put them up in only two different places in the whole village, it's an entirely different thing than having 20 of them put up all over," he said.
After the meeting, Michelini said the village does not need Hamman's property to establish a TIF district.
"There is erroneous information out that there can't be a TIF (district) without the inclusion of his (Hamman's) property, but there can be," Michelini said.
Lee said he has spoke with several of the Orchard Road property owners who are interested in the TIF district.
"The TIF is going to be there, it's just a matter of how big (it will be)," Lee said.
Kaczmarek said he believes the board is in a "tough situation" as it considers the billboard request and the TIF district.
"Eighty percent of Americans want more jobs in America. But then we start doing stuff like this and you tell businesses they can't put up billboards or they have to be a certain way," Kaczmarek said.
Earlier in the meeting, board members again heard testimony from village residents in opposition to the allowing billboards.
One of the residents, John Bidelman asked board members to support the plan commission's recommendation not to amend the sign ordinance to permit electronic billboards.
"The property owner's (Hamman) only argument is that if he doesn't get his way he will not allow any further use of his property for development," Bidelman said, adding, "I find that argument extremely offensive and unworthy of your consideration."
Bidelman noted that there are already thousands of acres and thousands of square feet of unused commercial space for businesses in the village.
"I think the village should work on that before we put up unsightly billboards," he said.
Bidelman continued, "It is my belief that if a special use (for billboards) is approved, many more billboards will come and the village will be hard pressed to deny them and we will be saturated with more and more billboards.
"Where will it end? I don't want our community to look like what we see on interstate highways. It isn't a pretty sight as some may have suggested. It may be business friendly to bring more billboards into our community, but what we need are more businesses and no billboards. Please don't let this happen to our community."