Mundelein officials say they'll end ban on certain types of signs

  • The owners of Franks for the Memories were unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject their request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. On Monday night, however, trustees reversed course and said they'd end a local ban on pole and cabinet-style signs.

    The owners of Franks for the Memories were unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject their request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. On Monday night, however, trustees reversed course and said they'd end a local ban on pole and cabinet-style signs. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 3/10/2020 10:04 AM
Editor's note: The story has been updated to indicate prohibitions on several types of signs aren’t being eliminated, including signs that are inflated, use message boards with type that can be changed, have video displays or use strobe lights or spotlights.

With public complaints from residents and local business owners growing, Mundelein officials on Monday said they intend to eliminate a 5-year-old ban on pole and cabinet-style wall signs.

Businesses with such signs no longer would have to remove those displays by an April deadline. Such signs would be allowed to remain until the business changes or is significantly remodeled, officials said.

 

Sign maintenance -- such as ensuring light bulbs work and rust is covered -- will be stepped up, however, trustees agreed.

The board's informal decision to make those changes came during a special committee-of-the-whole meeting before a standing-room-only crowd of about 60 people.

A formal vote could happen as soon as the board's next meeting on March 23, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

About 20 audience members urged officials to change the rules during about an hour of public comments at the start of Monday's meeting. Only one audience member spoke in favor of the restrictions.

The sign ordinance was created in 2015 to improve the look of the village and reduce safety hazards.

The regulations ban several types of signs, including those on poles or those consisting of cabinet-style, wall-mounted displays.

Officials gave business owners five years to change nonconforming signs or request exemptions. About 80% of the village's roughly 800 businesses are in compliance with the rules, officials said.

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The sign ordinance came under public criticism in December after the board voted not to allow the popular Franks for the Memories restaurant to keep the iconic pole sign that's stood outside its Hawley Street building for more than 30 years.

The restaurant's owners argued the tall, yellow sign should be exempted from the rules because it has historical value and has become an important feature of the restaurant, but a board majority disagreed.

Franks' co-owner, Jim Schultz Jr., said the board's reversal "feels awesome."

"This is the outcome I was hoping to get," he told the Daily Herald after the meeting. "We think it's fair."

Trustee Erich Schwenk asked if repealing the ban on pole and cabinet signs would be fair to businesses that replaced signs to comply with the rules.

In response, Trustee Robin Meier said any entrepreneurs who replaced signs enhanced their businesses by taking that action. She had no qualms about changing the rules.

"Ordinances change all the time," Meier said. "Building codes change all the time."

Prohibitions on several types of signs aren't being eliminated, including signs that are inflated, use message boards with type that can be changed, have video displays or use strobe lights or spotlights.

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