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La Grange Village Board denies request for second-floor business signs

Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 2:19 p.m. CDT

LA GRANGE – A request by the owner of a building at 1 N. La Grange Road to allow signs for two second-floor businesses was denied by the Village Board at its meeting Monday.

The board voted unanimously to prohibit the businesses – Massage Envy and ATI Physical Therapy – from erecting signs on the wall of the building’s top floor. The property’s owner, Mid-America Asset Management, had applied for a variance to the village’s Zoning Code that prohibits wall signs above the first floor of a building, regardless of whether a business is located on the second floor.

The resolution approved by the board also requires the businesses to remove their banners currently displayed on the second-floor wall within 10 business days.

"It really starts to clutter downtown,” said Trustee David McCarty, an architect who helped write the village’s Zoning Code, about second-floor signs. "If you get signs [that are] too high, the pedestrians just don't see them. That was the reason it was taken out of the sign ordinance over 20 years ago.”

Trustee Jeff Nowak asked the board to consider allowing the businesses to keep their banner signs until the village considers the second-floor signage issue on a village-wide basis, which the board advised at its June meeting.

"This is an issue where, at least for me, we have to balance the interests of our community and the interests of the business community, which of course plays a significant role in the prosperity we enjoy as a village," Nowak said by phone.

But McCarty said the banners have already been up for 90 days, which is unfair to other second-floor businesses that aren’t allowed to display signs.

"They have a certain responsibility before they sign a lease to look at what the zoning laws are and what signage they are entitled to,” McCarty said.

As alternative options, the property owner could construct a directory sign that would display the names of all businesses in the building, but McCarty said it did not want to consider that option. He said businesses are also allowed to display signs in their windows.

"My concern ... is that I don't see how that could be more desirable than having the banners up," Nowak said. "Now we're going to invite businesses to chalk up their windows as they see fit to advertise their businesses. I don't see how that's more tasteful than [wall signs]."

Village President Tom Livingston encouraged the Plan Commission and Design Review Commission to meet as soon as possible to decide whether they want to consider a change in the Zoning Code to allow second-floor signs. Nowak said it will likely be fall before the commissions reach a decision.

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