Village Officials Discuss Changes in ‘Red Sign Grove’

Proposed sign code revisions would allow business owners more leeway with promotional messages.

Buffalo Grove business owners could soon have new on-site promotional opportunities.

Village officials are considering a number of updates to the sign ordinance in an effort “to address sign trends, improve the sign review process, and enhance the business environment in Buffalo Grove,” according to a village memo. 

The revised ordinance would allow business owners to obtain permits to install electronic signs in windows, on menu boards and at gas stations. Currently, they have to go through a longer variance process before installing such signs.

“What we found was that businesses were just putting them up in the windows, thinking they were permitted signs,” Ghida Neukirch, deputy village manager, said. The signs often are used to promote restaurant specials, she said.

If the revised ordinance is adopted, business owners could more easily get permission to use one-foot-high, three-feet-wide signs to promote such information as gas prices. The signs would feature letters about nine inches tall and would be turned off at the close of business.

Lights from the signs should not affect nearby residents, said Deputy Building Commissioner Brian Sheehan, because the letters would likely be red, with a black background. The colors aren’t as bright as white lights, which would not be allowed under the proposal, he said.

During the presentation and discussion during Monday’s Village Board meeting, Trustee Mike Terson expressed a desire for more colorful, unique signs on businesses throughout the village. While each of the village’s 21 shopping centers follows the specifications of its own sign code, store names on the fronts of businesses are often in red text.

Rather than carry such a uniform appearance, Terson, who dubbed the village “Red Sign Grove,” advocated the use of more corporate logos and leeway for business owners to use different colors on their outdoor signs.

“I’ve always gotten the feeling that Buffalo Grove, as a community, has been against these kinds of signs,” said Terson, who praised the variety of store signs in Lincolnshire’s City Park shopping center. “I would like to see us … make the retail properties more inviting to come into Buffalo Grove.”

“We cannot be as rigid as we once were, insisting on vanilla signs,” Trustee Jeff Berman said. “I think Trustee Terson is right, that we have to move forward."

Most of the conversation, however, centered on electronic and temporary signs.

The proposed ordinance would allow by permit portable four-foot signs in front of businesses, seasonal banners, grand opening signs and signs advertising space for rent, sale or lease.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has already approved the revisions, which Neukirch said staff members have spent “many, many months” fine-tuning.

Board members ultimately decided to postpone voting on the new ordinance; officials received the 49-page document outlining proposed changes late last week, and they said they wanted more time to review it. (See PDF at right.)

Details that will be considered will include the length of time between display changes on electronic signs and whether future variances will be reviewed by the Plan Commission or the Zoning Board of Appeals before going before the Village Board.


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