LA GRANGE – A new comprehensive sign plan approved Monday by the Village Board could permit businesses to display previously banned types of signage like second-floor signs, given they fit the architectural character of the building.
In July, the board denied a request by the property owner at 1 N. La Grange Road to allow signage for the building's two second-floor tenants, ATI Physical Therapy and Massage Envy.
Owners of both businesses – along with owners of second-floor businesses on Harris Avenue – then asked the village for some way to display signs during a public meeting in August.
The village, which strives to balance the interests of businesses and the architecturally -unique downtown it has preserved, decided to add the new plan to its stringent Zoning Code to create more flexibility for businesses.
Commercial building owners will now submit signage plans that would govern all signs on the property. The Design Review Commission will review applications – previously, the Zoning Board considered sign ordinance variations – and make a recommendation to the village manager, who will have final say. If new signage meets the village's current requirements, building owners do not have to submit an application.
“We struggled with this as a board and looked for some help, and I think staff and the Design Review Commission came up with a great solution," Trustee Mark Langan said.
Guidelines for commercial signage call for displays that reflect the architectural character of the building, are oriented to pedestrians and appropriately sized for the building. Signs with electronic messages or animation will remain prohibited.
The new plan will accelerate the process of businesses applying for new signage. The village manager must decide whether to accept or reject an application 15 days after receiving a recommendation from the Design Review Commission.
Trustee David McCarty, an architect who helped develop the village's Zoning Code, said he shared the concern of the one Plan Commission member who voted against the new plan because it was too broad, but still voted in favor of it.
“What I really like about it is that it brings the Design Review Commission back into an active role in our downtown," he said. “If we do need to look at this again in a year, there won’t be permanent damage that’s been done.”