Montgomery continues debate over electronic billboard
By Judy Pochel For The Beacon-News January 23, 2013 6:24PM
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:37PM
MONTGOMERY — The fate of an electronic billboard proposed along Orchard Road remains uncertain as trustees debated the village ordinance Tuesday and the property owner said he would not allow the land to annexed if the sign is rejected.
At issue is a proposed tax increment financing district that is planned for Orchard Road, right in the middle of where LaMar advertising wants to place a 12- by 25-foot LED sign.
Don Hamman, owner of the land, said he has been working in good faith with Montgomery and Kendall County.
“I own 350 acres in that area on both sides of the sign. If this isn’t allowed, it will never be in the TIF. I will go so far as moving that property into my estate,” he said, indicating his land for the TIF district won’t be sold if the electronic billboard plans are denied.
Hamman and an attorney for LaMar first approached Montgomery last fall about allowing the large LED sign to become the first of its kind in the suburbs. A non-electronic billboard already at the site was scheduled for removal when the state took over the land for road improvements.
Charlene Coulombe-Fiore, executive director of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation, said she was in favor of allowing the sign.
“I am supporting this for three reasons: It was placed out of compliance due to a road issue; they are upgrading the sign and investing over $2.5 million; and I am concerned about the future development of the community,” she said.
Members of the community, however, turned out to voice their opposition to the plan and called the advertisement a “megatron”.
“I think most people agree billboards are something that is unsightly and goes against the village atmosphere of a small town,” said resident Robert Bell.
Another resident, Linda Olson, said the sign would lead to driver distraction.
“Common sense tells anyone here this is a safety issue. It will not help the traffic flow on Orchard. Something that big will definitely draw the eye of the drivers,” she said.
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.
“If we don’t approve or at least consider, the whole TIF district is gone and you can kiss it goodbye,” said Trustee Denny Lee.
The board will meet Monday when it will be asked again to accept or reject the recommendation of the planning commission.