Mundelein trustees to discuss changes to strict sign rules

  • Weeks after Mundelein officials refused to grant Franks for the Memories an exemption allowing it keep its eye-catching pole sign, a village trustee is calling for a special meeting to review the town's rules and regulations for signs.

    Weeks after Mundelein officials refused to grant Franks for the Memories an exemption allowing it keep its eye-catching pole sign, a village trustee is calling for a special meeting to review the town's rules and regulations for signs. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2019

  • The sign outside Bill's Pizza & Pub in Mundelein was allowed to stay despite a 2015 ordinance banning pole signs in town.

    The sign outside Bill's Pizza & Pub in Mundelein was allowed to stay despite a 2015 ordinance banning pole signs in town. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2015

 
 
Updated 1/28/2020 5:49 PM

A Mundelein trustee concerned about the town's strict rules for business signs has called for a special meeting to discuss amending the ordinance.

Near the end of Monday's village board meeting, Trustee Dawn Abernathy requested a public review of the rules and possible changes. It likely will occur during a committee-of-the-whole meeting in March.

 

"I think the sign ordinance needs to be revised," Abernathy said Tuesday. "It causes an undue burden to many of our businesses in town."

Abernathy said she and at least three other trustees want to discuss possible changes to the rules. She didn't say if she has specific changes in mind.

The village board approved the sign ordinance in April 2015 to create a more attractive business climate and reduce safety hazards caused by "the indiscriminate use and placement of signs."

Several types of signs are banned under the regulations, including those on poles and those that use strobe lights or floodlights. Message boards with changeable text are forbidden, too.

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Under the rules, pole signs and cabinet-style wall signs must be removed by mid-April. Officials deliberately gave business owners five years to change those signs or request exemption from the rules.

Village grants are available to help business owners pay for new signs.

Trustee Kara Lambert said the ordinance has worked. The businesses that have changed their signs "look really good," she said.

The ordinance has received public criticism, though, after the board's December decision not to allow the award-winning Franks for the Memories restaurant to keep the eye-catching pole sign that's stood outside its Hawley Street building for more than 30 years.

The restaurant's owners argued the yellow, fading sign should be exempted from the rules because it has historical value and has become an important feature of the restaurant. Many fans agreed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But three trustees and Mayor Steve Lentz disagreed and rejected the restaurant's pleas for a zoning variance.

Abernathy said the board's refusal of Franks' request moved her to call for the ordinance to be re-examined.

"It's too strict," she said.

Lambert wants to revisit the ordinance, too. She didn't join the board until 2019, and she wants to make sure the ordinance represents the intentions of the trustees who approved it.

Of the current trustees, Abernathy, Robin Meier and Ray Semple were on the board when the sign ordinance was adopted.

Meier said she believes the ordinance should be amended to allow existing business signs to remain in place. Any such signs could be removed or updated when businesses change or are remodeled, she said.

There are areas where the rules could be stricter, too, Meier said. For example, language should be added to ensure signs are maintained, she said.

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