North Riverside’s village planner has asked elected officials to support a plan that would repeal the village’s sign code in its entirety and replace it with one that not only stiffens regulations but also puts a little teeth in to enforcement.
Robert Kallien, who has been systematically overhauling the North Riverside Zoning Code as part of a comprehensive planning process, led village trustees through his proposed changes to the sign code at a Jan. 11 meeting of the village board’s Development Committee.
Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti called the sign code rewrite a “beautification” effort.
“This is part of a major beautification initiative and elevates the standard, so people can tell North Riverside is set apart from some of our neighbors,” Scarpiniti told trustees.
Based on the reaction to his proposed changes, the village board is expected to vote the new code into law at its Feb. 8 meeting.
“We’re trying to modernize the code and make it consistent with the goals of the village,” Kallien told trustees.
According to Kallien, the existing sign code is 30 years old and has not been altered significantly during that time despite changes in technology and in the village itself.
“As a result, you’ll see a lot of signs that may not be consistent with what North Riverside wants moving forward,” said Kallien, who pointed to an “over-abundance” of signage in the area of North Riverside Park Mall, a proliferation of pole signs along Cermak Road and electronic reader board signs.
The new regulations would allow the village to address signs it no longer wants to encourage, including a requirement for non-compliant signs to be removed and replaced as redevelopment takes place.
“Each zoning district has special characteristics, so regulations need to apply to each district,” Kallien said.
The new code would also allow the village to get business owners to take down signs that were installed as temporary solutions but which have become permanent features. In addition, it seeks to limit the amount of window area that can be covered with signs, particularly video gambling venues, where signage can cover entire window areas.
Currently, the code allows 50 percent window coverage for signage. The new code would limit it to 30 percent.
Enforcement for removing temporary signs and banners would be tied to the annual business license renewal process, Kallien said.
“That way we can catalogue and take corrective steps during the annual inspection process,” he said.
Permanent signage would be grandfathered under the new rules, but if a property underwent redevelopment, the owners would have to bring signs into compliance. For example, pole signs might need to be removed in favor of a lower monument sign.
It’s an opportunity to see positive changes as new tenants come in or if there’s redevelopment,” Kallien said.
The new code also prohibits some kinds of signage outright, such as “attention getting devices” such as flags and inflatable figures that flap in the wind, neon signs, advertising signs including billboards and moving or animated signs.
The code for the first time also defines electronic reader board signs and includes language about how they will be regulated. The village has allowed a number of such signs in the past.
The new code will state that such signs may be allowed, but states that the village must issue a permit for such a sign and that all such signs need to meet a list of criteria. Generally, however, reader board sigs are prohibited, according to the draft code.