Second company approved for electronic billboards
By Bob Okon email@example.com September 17, 2013 9:46PM
The corner of Collins Street and Woodruff Road, where the electronic sign was proposed, is across the street from the old Joliet prison. | Bob Okon~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 19, 2013 7:29PM
An electronic billboard on Collins Street that faced stiff resistance from the city’s zoning board sailed through the Joliet City Council on Tuesday.
The council also declared the old Cub Foods store on Larkin Avenue a public nuisance, paving the way for potential demolition if the site is not developed or maintained.
Council members approved the Collins Street sign unanimously without discussing it, allowing a second company into the relatively new business of installing electronic message boards at city locations. The sign would be the first electronic billboard on the East Side.
Councilman Terry Morris, chairman of the council’s land use committee, noted afterward that the committee gave unanimous approval to the sign previously.
“We had discussed it before in a lot of detail,” Morris said.
Even so, the sign was later reviewed by the zoning board, which recommended against the proposal from Chi Town Signs while approving more message boards for a competing sign company.
Carlos Tinoco, with Joliet-based Chi Town Signs, said he hoped to have the sign up before the end of the year.
“We’re trying to get it done this year, but that depends on how construction goes,” Tinoco said.
The message boards require a zoning variance because, unlike other electronic signs in Joliet, they are used for off-premise advertising and frequently are located in public parkways.
The city has allowed the signs with conditions that require a certain number of the rotating advertisements to be used for public service announcements. The signs are potentially lucrative because multiple ads can be displayed in the same space.
Until the council vote Tuesday, the only company in the business in Joliet was Impact Outdoor, a Naperville company that has approval for up to 12 signs and has erected two so far.
The zoning board last month approved sites for three Impact Outdoor signs at the same meeting in which it voted against the Chi Town sign. A representative from Impact Outdoor spoke out against the Collins Street sign, saying he was looking for a spot in the same area for one of his signs.
The Chi Town sign will go up at Collins Street and Woodruff Road at a site occupied by Imperial Roofing. City staff has said it wants the sign and property improvements to spruce up the Collins Street corridor entering Joliet.
The plan includes a deal worked out by city staff for Imperial Roofing to make property improvements in exchange for getting a small piece of city land adjacent to the site. That deal still needs city council approval.
In another effort to improve an entryway into Joliet, the council declared as a public nuisance the vacant Cub Foods store near the Larkin Avenue interchange with Interstate 80.
“Hopefully, this will be the start of revitalizing that corridor at Larkin and 80,” Councilman Jim McFarland said.
Declaring the site a public nuisance gives the city added leverage in efforts to encourage its redevelopment. The city would have to get court approval before it could force demolition of the building.