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updated: 10/5/2017 8:22 PM

Lombard rejects plan for billboards along I-355

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  • Lombard residents who spoke out against a proposal to put two billboards along I-355 convinced the village board and Lamar Companies to withdraw the proposal. The decision means no billboards will be located along the tollway in the village.

      Lombard residents who spoke out against a proposal to put two billboards along I-355 convinced the village board and Lamar Companies to withdraw the proposal. The decision means no billboards will be located along the tollway in the village.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

Lombard residents spoke and their village board listened.

Residents opposed a proposal to place two lighted, electronic billboards along I-355 between North Avenue and Roosevelt Road -- and now the plan appears dead.

Village officials told residents that they and Lamar Advertising are withdrawing their joint proposal to allow the billboards on village-owned property at the Glenbard Wastewater Authority along Glen Oak Road.

The village board plans to accept the withdrawal Nov. 2 and close the matter.

"It's 100 percent dead and gone as of that point," said Lombard resident John Behrendt, who lives just east of the tollway and mobilized his neighbors to speak out against the proposed billboards. "We're beyond thrilled."

The withdrawal of the billboards plan means Lombard will not receive $75,000 a year in a proposed 20-year lease with Lamar. The money would have gone toward capital improvements at the sewage treatment plant.

"When we started really hammering out what the financial benefit was, it was not worth it at all," Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio said. "We're not going to disrupt this neighborhood to put up these billboards."

The decision means two Lamar-owned billboards along Roosevelt Road, near Stewart Avenue and Westmore-Meyers Road, will stay in place. Had new displays been allowed along I-355, the old ones along Roosevelt would have been taken down.

Lamar Advertising did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Bill Heniff, Lombard's community development director, said the decision to pull the proposal was mutual. He said residents' opposition wasn't just to the size, height or brightness of the proposed billboards, but to billboards in general, leading officials to believe it was no longer worth their time to pursue the idea.

The village and Lamar began discussing the billboard possibility more than three years ago. Giagnorio said trustees began investigating the proposal in more detail during the last month, after several residents brought up concerns. He said not a single call, email or text supported the installation of billboards along the tollway.

"It's great to see that our trustees and our board president had open minds and did their due diligence, and most importantly listened to their citizens," Behrendt said.

Residents and village leaders both say the decision shows democracy works.

"I was never more proud to be a Lombardian than dealing with that neighborhood and the people who were affected," Giagnorio said.

Residents who vocally opposed the billboards say they feel validated in their efforts to preserve their neighborhood from light pollution, protect tollway drivers from one more distraction and uphold the village's image.

"I think the people had their say and the village listened," nearby resident Kathleen Savage. "They realized this just isn't right for Lombard."

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