La Grange to consider change to signage code, allow more flexibility

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 1:04 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 11:21 a.m. CDT

LA GRANGE – Businesses will get the chance to display signage outside the scope of the village's strict zoning code if a proposed amendment is approved by the Village Board.

In July, the board denied a request by the owner of the commercial building at 1 N. La Grange Road to allow signs outside two second-floor businesses.

With the denial, the board encouraged the Design Review Commission to determine whether the village should alter its zoning code to allow second-floor signs. After discussions with commission members, village staff recently drafted the Commercial Building Comprehensive Sign Plan, which would let the village manager approve or deny requests by building owners for features like second-floor signs or window signs, with input from Design Review Commission members.

"It puts it in the hands of design professionals to look at to say, 'this makes sense' or 'this doesn't,'" Community Development Director Patrick Benjamin said. 

Previously, applications for variances to the zoning code were considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals and then the Village Board. Benjamin said the board could consider the amendment as early as its Oct. 28 meeting.

The new process would give the village and businesses more flexibility to alter buildings in ways that preserve their architectural character, Benjamin said.

"It's giving the customer a little bit more freedom of design within a framework," said Wayne Kardatzke, Plan Commission chairperson. "So what we're hoping is that people will be more creative. We'll get [proposals] that look really nice and fitting to the village."

The amendment also includes a deadline for the village's decision after building owners apply for exceptions to the Zoning Code, a feature requested by the attorney for the 1 N. La Grange Road building. 

The building's two second-floor businesses, Massage Envy and ATI Physical Therapy, were forced to remove banners outside their windows after the Village Board's July ruling. But the proposed amendment signals a change in the village's atittude toward the businesses and its desire to keep them in town.

"We don't want Las Vegas style signs all over La Grange. We had that 20 years ago." Kardatzke said. "You have to allow for them to advertise their business, but [you] want to control how they advertise their business."

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