Updated June 19, 4:00 p.m.
Some homeowners who live across the street from Riverside-Brookfield High School are protesting the school’s request to install a 10-by-6.5-foot electronic sign on the northeast corner of Ridgewood and Golf roads.
Initially, the school had planned to place the sign at Ridgewood Road and First Avenue, replacing the present sign. In fact, it was the school district that led an eight-month effort in 2009 and 2010 to amend the village code regarding electronic signs, so that one could eventually be placed along First Avenue.
However, about a month ago, the school district approached the village about changing the location, arguing that Golf and Ridgewood would better serve the families of kids at the school.
“We wanted to make sure the new sign was accessible to all of the communities we serve,” said Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.
Since changing the location of the main entrance of the high school, fewer vehicles make it to First and Ridgewood. Many Brookfield residents and North Riversiders who live west of First Avenue approach the school from the west via Washington Avenue going only as far as Golf Road.
As a result, said Skinkis, the school felt Golf Road made more sense as a suitable location.
“It provides an opportunity for parents from Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside, as they go to drop off and pick up students, an opportunity to see upcoming events, advertisements for the school and possibly future advertisements for the zoo,” said Skinkis, referring to the fact that Gold Road also leads to the South Gate of Brookfield Zoo.
“We thought the location provides a lot more opportunity for the high school as well as the community that the high school serves,” he added.
The request has angered residents living across Ridgewood Road, who object to a sign that would require two zoning variances. Such a sign would run afoul of the requirement for such a sign to be located along an arterial street and the requirement that such a sign be further than 180 feet from the nearest residence.
As presented, the sign would be within 180 feet of several residences near the intersection.
In response, residents began circulating a petition opposing the sign and planned on delivering the petition to the Riverside Plan Commission, which was scheduled to take up the variance requests at their meeting on Tuesday night, after the Landmark’s press time.
“RBHS is our neighbor and we enjoy the school, teachers and students as part of our community,” said Gonzo Schexnayder, who lives on Ridgewood Road and is leading the petition drive. “But, the electronic sign they’re asking to build in our neighborhood is in violation of the bylaws of Riverside, will hurt our already depressed home values and would be a glaring pockmark in the ‘Village in the Forest.’ If the RBHS leadership wants or the Riverside Planning Commission approves a sign like this, they’re welcome to put it 180 feet from their house.”
Skinkis said he planned on attending the Plan Commission hearing on Tuesday.