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Local News

Joliet plans crackdown on 'carnival' of temporary signs

Signs hang from the light post at a car dealership on Jefferson Street near the intersection of Stryker Avenue in Joliet on Thursday.
Signs hang from the light post at a car dealership on Jefferson Street near the intersection of Stryker Avenue in Joliet on Thursday.

JOLIET – When is a temporary sign no longer a temporary sign?

In 30 days, according to a proposed Joliet ordinance aimed at limiting the use of banners, inflatables and other roadside attention-grabbers placed outside local businesses.

“I’ve had a lot of complaints about dancing puppets and feather signs,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman said. “It’s beginning to look like a carnival.”

Quillman has been the lead proponent for tighter regulation of temporary signs that do not go away.

The Joliet City Council Legislative and Land Use Committee this week approved a proposed ordinance that could go to the full council for a vote Feb. 3.

The proposed measure puts limits on how many temporary signs can be posted, how long they can stay, and how many times a year they can be used.

Businesses and others who use the signs would pay a $50 permit fee for the signs. Those who violate the ordinance would be fined at least $50 a day.

“We’re trying to bring some order, some control to an issue that has cropped up over the years,” said Kendall Jackson, the city’s planning director. “These are signs that are temporary in nature but, without regulation, become permanent.”

The proposed ordinance would allow a business to use up to three temporary signs for a 30-day period. Businesses could use temporary signs only twice a year.

An exemption would be granted for signs used by home sellers, such as open house advertisements. A-frame signs are being exempted as planners consider how to regulate their use in the downtown business district.

Some consideration was given to allowing streamers typically used at car dealerships. But streamers are in the ordinance as of now.

Your Choice Autos on Jefferson Street is one business that uses streamers and banners.

A photo of the dealership, along with other Jefferson Street businesses, was shown at the Wednesday meeting as an example of signs the city wants to control.

“We have people drive by. They can see these signs, and it brings people in,” Naveen Karim, manager at Your Choice Autos, said Thursday when told about the city proposal. “We don’t mind taking them down, but we don’t want to.”

Councilman Jim McFarland said at the Wednesday meeting that safety is a concern along with aesthetics.

“From what I’ve heard from our residents, it’s definitely a distraction,” McFarland said. “And, it creates this circus-like atmosphere that can be a distraction while you should be paying attention to your vehicle.”

The city also is stepping up enforcement of an existing ordinance that prohibits signs in the right-of-way area between the sidewalk and street, Jackson said.

The city has a sign ordinance. But, Jackson said, “The current sign ordinance did not anticipate the sheer number and types of signs that are out there now.”

Proposed rules for temporary signs

• Temporary signs can be up for 30 days.

• No more than three temporary signs allowed at a time.

• Temporary signs can be posted twice a year.

• $50 permit required for temporary sign.

• Minimum $50 fine for violations.

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