Montgomery Residents Decry Electronic Billboard Proposal
Supporters of the proposal have said the billboard would bring revenue into the village, while opponents said the signage would be an eyesore.
A proposal to put an electronic billboard along Orchard Road has put Montgomery officials in a tight spot.
According to the Aurora Beacon News, LaMar Advertising has requested permission to erect a 12-by-25-foot LED sign in the northeast corner of Orchard Road and Aucutt Road, according to the Beacon News. The company said Montgomery would be the first Chicago suburb to have an electronic billboard.
But, according to the Beacon, a proposed tax increment financing district is planned for Orchard Road, right in the middle of where LaMar Advertising wants to place the sign. Don Hamman, owner of the land, said he would not allow the land to be annexed if the sign is rejected.
This concerns Charlene Coulombe-Fiore, executive director of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation.
"If the billboard sign on Orchard does not get approved, the owner of the land will not annex to the village, thus wasting the $20,000 on the TIF eligibility study, and the entire future development all along Orchard Road," she said.
According to the Beacon, trustees had asked the planning commission to look at the issue again. The first time the request was made, commission members had a split vote on the sign. After debating it again, they voted 6 to 1 to advise the Village Board not to allow electronic billboards.
Several residents have spoken out against the proposal, saying the billboards are an eyesore and will destroy the village’s architecture.
Montgomery resident Jason Bragg, a former member of the village’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, said he believes “electronic billboards are a bad idea for our village.”
“When the Plan Commission was framing the village's first comprehensive plan in the early 2000's, there was quite a bit of debate over billboards and their negative aesthetics within the community,” he said. “The commission, along with village staff and the trustees overwhelmingly voted against allowing new billboards in Montgomery.”
Bragg said the vote paved the way for the creation of a sign ordinance to help clean up the village's business corridors, including Orchard and Montgomery roads, Douglas Avenue, and routes 30 and 34, which "suffered from years of little to no village regulation."
“I'm all for attracting commercial business and tax dollars into our community, however, the use of billboards in an attempt to accomplish this is not appropriate for a community the size of Montgomery,” he said.
Montgomery resident Kelly Pfarrer said she is “opposed to any changes to the village ordinance that would allow the electronic billboards.
“Along with all the residents I've spoken with, I prefer thoughtful development that makes Montgomery more appealing, not huge flashing eyesores along a major gateway to our homes and businesses that would detract from the pleasant community we live in and make a bad impression on visitors and shoppers,” she said.
The Village Board is expected to vote on the fate of the proposal Monday night.