A series of proposed changes to Park Ridge’s sign requirements drew criticism from members of the business community at a meeting on Monday.
The committee of the whole voted, 4-3, to defer the matter to its meeting on Feb. 11, to give the city attorney time to review the ordinance and make recommendations on any aspects that might need to change, including the deadline for all signs, new and old, to be in compliance with the new law.
Stephen Schimmel, executive vice president and owner of McLennan Property Management, 25 Northwest Highway in Park Ridge, said he was concerned about a number of the proposed changes to the city’s sign laws.
Schimmel listed several sections of the ordinance he took issue with, including the size limit for temporary signs in building windows, something that directly affects his business.
In an interview with Patch, Schimmel said he currently uses 4-foot by 4-foot signs, or 16 square feet, to advertise property for lease, a size he said was common in his industry. Under the proposed law, signs in interior windows cannot exceed six square feet.
“Some of these items I just think are an undue expense,” Schimmel told committee members. “Others will affect, specifically, real estate activity, in the city for these kinds of retail space, due to the restrictions of the sign laws.”
One of the key aspects for commercial retailers to showcase their properties, Schimmel told Patch, was the ability to advertise the rental property with a sign in the window.
“If [commercial retailers] can’t do that, or if their signs are diminished in size, it affects our ability to get a property lease for a business owner,” Schimmel said.
Schimmel said he also was concerned about the compliance date of Jan. 1, 2015. Schimmel said old signs that did not conform with the revised laws should be grandfathered in.
The city attorney, Everette “Buzz” Hill, said the date for all signs that don’t conform to the revised ordinance may be too aggressive, and not defensible.
Sheila Duda, a local business owner, and Joan Sandrik, a local real estate agent, are members of the nine-member Sign Task Force which formed about a year ago to perform a comprehensive review of Park Ridge’s sign requirements.
Duda said the Jan. 1, 2015 date never was intended to be inflexible. What was important to the task force, she said, was that there be a deadline for all signs in the city to conform to the new requirements.
“Non-conforming signs can go decades without ever coming into compliance,” Duda said. “So if there is an aesthetic that we want to have in our community, we’re not able to achieve it with the current ordinance.”
Duda said the grandfathering issue was the most complicated aspect of the task force’s work.
“After hours of discussion, and it wasn’t unanimous, but it came forward as, on a certain date and time, they got to go,” Duda said.
When asked what would be a reasonable timeframe for the city to require all signs to comply with the new laws, Sandrik said residents should weigh in at public meetings on the issue.
“What do the citizens in town want? We can offer our opinions about what seems reasonable, but I think there has to be some public comment,” Sandrik said.
A complete copy of the proposed signage laws is posted on the City of Park Ridge website.