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posted: 5/10/2014 8:01 AM

Bartlett considers whether to relax restrictions for business signs

Village looks to ease rules, be more business-friendly

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In Bartlett, businesses must go through a lengthy process to put up or even tweak their outdoor signs.

In older shopping centers -- the bulk of businesses in town -- retailers might have to wait months simply to change the color of dated signs.

Village staff members first consider whether design plans should go to a public hearing. Business owners also must secure the approval of trustees.

Hoping to cut the red tape, the economic development commission has outlined new parameters that would require only the community development department to approve signs.

"It's not as burdensome as a full-blown review," Community Development Director Jim Plonczynski said.

Relaxing the rules is part of an ambitious blueprint to make Bartlett more business-friendly. The commission also has backed another tax increment financing district downtown, a pedestrian plaza and shorter-term goals like a business expo catering to Metra commuters.

For Jan Suffern, co-owner of the popular shops at Banbury Fair, a more pressing need is a sign on Route 59 directing shoppers to the downtown, which is tucked away from major roads.

"Anything to get more people, more traffic into the downtown is valuable," she said.

Although Bartlett has informally allowed sandwich board signs, officials want to formally recognize them in village code. Under the proposal, a business could put up one chalkboard, A-frame sign on sidewalks to promote daily specials.

"It's kind of quaint," Plonczynski said. "You see some of that in the downtowns that are noted for their shopping."

Another change would pave the way for bigger window and electronic signs. The Bartlett Park District already is seeking to install a 32-square-foot digital sign with revolving messages at Villa Olivia, the golf, banquet and ski venue off Lake Street. That's the maximum size now endorsed by the commission.

On June 25, the zoning board of appeals is scheduled to hold a hearing on the measures -- applying to signs in all business districts. Permit fees will go unchanged.

The regulations could go into effect after a village board vote in early July.

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