COD, Glen Ellyn deal shaky

  • College of DuPage officials have argued that signs installed on campus aren't subject to village codes. Both sides have come close to a resolution, but a last-minute change by the village might put the agreement in jeopardy.

      College of DuPage officials have argued that signs installed on campus aren't subject to village codes. Both sides have come close to a resolution, but a last-minute change by the village might put the agreement in jeopardy. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/29/2011 4:01 PM

College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn officials appeared poised to end a long-running dispute about whether the college can install electronic signs on campus.

But a last-minute change to a proposed intergovernmental agreement by the village has both sides pointing fingers, suggesting they could be back to square one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The village had previously argued that the college's signs violated village code. But under the deal, the college would be allowed to keep the existing signs and install five new ones. New signs larger than 200 feet would require discussions with the village.

On Thursday, the college's board of trustees approved a version of the agreement. Ken Florey, the college's attorney, said it is the latest draft that both sides agreed to behind closed doors April 19.

But Stewart Diamond, the village's attorney, said in fact the most recent version includes language that would allow the village to retain "quasi-criminal" jurisdiction over the school, in order to enforce "standard health and safety" village ordinances.

Diamond said the village has submitted a list of about 10 ordinances that officials believe are enforceable, such as regulations on noise, odors and garbage collection.

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"Unless the village retains limited health and safety (ordinances) over hundreds of acres of college property, we don't think we can sign the agreement," Diamond said.

He said that version of the agreement was sent to the college two weeks ago.

But Florey said he was informed of the village's change Tuesday. He said such language already had been discussed and rejected much earlier in the negotiations, which began more than a year ago.

"Once you make concessions, you can't go back on items already taken off the table," Florey said. "If we're subject to all their ordinances, then what's the point of this agreement? Then we're just like a 7-Eleven."

College of DuPage President Robert Breuder said he believes the college has bargained in good faith, and was "shocked" when informed this week that the village wanted revisions. He also said he found Diamond's arguments about health and safety to be "insulting."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Nobody's more concerned with the health, safety and welfare of those who go to school here and work here (than the college)," Breuder said.

On Thursday, Florey told the college's board members to vote on the agreement as is -- without the language suggested by Diamond.

"What you have is a compromise," Florey said. "It's not a perfect agreement. It's been said, 'You know it's a good agreement when both sides are dissatisfied.' And that's what we have."

If the village board approves a different version, Breuder and Florey said the college would likely pursue de-annexation. The board is expected to take a vote on the agreement Monday, May 9.

The two sides previously struck a deal in 2007 as the college was beginning a major construction plan, but the college later withdrew from the agreement.

Under the proposed two-year deal, the college would agree to drop the lawsuit it filed last summer against the village.

The village couldn't enforce any ordinances, regulations, permits or codes against the college, with the exception of liquor and restaurant licenses, and traffic and criminal regulations.

The deal also stipulates the college would have to turn off its sign on the east side of the McAninch Arts Center by 6 p.m., except during special events.

Public comment periods for sign construction would still be permitted.

If there are disagreements, an independent arbitrator agreed upon by both parties would be consulted. The agreement states that the arbitrator "must defer to the college's position unless the college is acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner for questions of law as opposed to questions of fact." The losing party would be responsible for picking up the cost of the arbiter's fee.