Billboard debate to continue in Montgomery
By Judy Pochel For The Beacon-News January 29, 2013 10:58AM
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:50AM
MONTGOMERY — The debate over what type of billboards will be constructed in the village continues.
After considerable discussion Monday night, trustees voted 3-2 against a recommendation to outlaw the large electronic billboards, as recommended by the planning commission.
Trustee Stan Bond, however, said he will raise the issue to ban the billboards again.
Bond and Trustee Matt Brolley voted to accept the planning commission recommendation opposing the billboards.
Trustees Denny Lee, Pete Heinz and Andy Kaczmarek voted against adopting the ban. Trustee Bill Keck was absent.
The proposal to erect a 12- by 25-foot LED sign along Orchard Road has led to immense debate in the village.
Residents again turned out in force Monday, urging the board to ban the billboards.
“I moved out here from the city over 16 years ago. I was impressed by the friendliness, compassion and family oriented people,” said Sylvia Martens, as she asked trustees to outlaw the billboards.
Last week, the owner of the land where the billboard would be placed said he would oppose a special tax district for the site, if the billboard is not approved.
Don Hamman owns some 350 acres in the area where a tax increment financing district is proposed along Orchard Road.
“I am coming from two different sides — a resident and business owner,” said resident Greg Nelson. “I would be disappointed if we would do business with a person who is holding us ransom... He is trying to bully us.”
Brian Dolan told trustees they need to keep an open mind on the issue.
“The key issue is these signs cannot just go anywhere in the village. They can only be in a few areas. You need to concentrate on the ordinance, not the person,” he said.
Trustees said they had listened to the residents’ concerns but said they needed to look at the issue from a different perspective.
“The position of the village is we have to listen to the business, they’re the ones who really give us the taxes,” Lee said.
“I don’t like to be in the position the trustees are in right now from somebody painting us into the corner,” he added.
Brolley said the village is in an unfortunate situation with the issue.
“What is the best thing we can do for the future of Montgomery? Vote down the billboards or move forward with the TIF? There is a lot going on and it is unfair to tie together but that is the struggle we have lived with,” Brolley said.
“Until we have a firm agreement on the TIF, I am not prepared to take action,” said Bond.
Last week, Hamman told the village that if the billboard is not allowed, his land “will never be in the TIF. I will go so far as moving that property into my estate.”