JOLIET – The city is considering a ban on decorative window lighting for most of the year and a moratorium on new LED signs.
And inflatable bounce houses would be banished to backyards if new regulations recommended by the City Council Land Use and Legislative Committee are approved. The full council eventually must approve the regulations for them to go into effect.
The ban on window lighting is mainly aimed at LED rope lights typically used be stores to draw attention to their businesses.
“We did some research into neighboring towns, and this is not out of line with anything else that is out there,” interim City Attorney Chris Regis told the committee.
Regis had proposed allowing LED window lighting between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 as a holiday exception. But the exception period was expanded to Oct. 15 to Jan. 15 after Chairman Terry Morris noted that many people like to use decorative lighting for Halloween, too.
The committee wants a 120-day moratorium on LED signs as city staff considers new regulations.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman said the city has received complaints about LED signs being too big and too bright.
“It’s the height. It’s the size. It’s the location – the lighting systems, several things,” Quillman said.
Eddie Hartsell, owner of Express Signs in Shorewood, urged the committee to hold off on a moratorium until the city gathered more information.
“I would like a list of the neighborhoods where people complained,” Hartsell said. “Not too many of them are in residential areas.”
Hartsell said one problem is that some of the signs are not installed with proper dimming equipment designed to adjust the brightness.
“You have a lot of guys who are making their own LEDs. They’re getting parts from China,” Hartsell said.
The committee, however, decided to move ahead with the recommendation for a moratorium to give staff time to review the rules in place now. Quillman added that she did not think the policy review would take the full four months being set aside for a moratorium.
Community Development Director Kendall Jackson noted that there is not a separate ordinance regulating LED signs now, and they are approved on a case by case basis under regulations for illuminated signs.
“We’re trying to deal with new technologies with our slightly outdated ordinances,” Jackson said.
Bounce houses would be added to the list of recreational equipment that Jackson called “this banishment to rear yards.”
He said the city already requires playground equipment and trampolines go in backyards. Bounce houses would be added to the same ordinance.