Village of North Aurora | Crossroads on the Fox

Plan Commission Minutes

CALL TO ORDER – 7:00 pm
Chairman Brackett called the meeting to order.

In attendance: Chairman Mike Brackett, Co-chairman Jennifer Duncan, Commissioners Mark Bozik, Connie Holbrook, Mark Carroll, Tom Lenkart, Mark Rivecco, Anna Touhy and Aaron Anderson.

Staff in attendance: Village Clerk Lori Murray, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth and Pete Iosue of Teska Associates.

1. Approval of Plan Commission Minutes dated January 8, 2013
Motion for approval made by Commissioner Rivecco and seconded by Commissioner Bozik. All in favor. Motion approved.

1. The Village of North Aurora requests a text amendment to Title 15.48.160 of the
North Aurora Municipal Code (sign ordinance) specifically regulating LED signage.

Chairman Brackett opened the public hearing and confirmed that the hearing was published and that certified receipts were collected from mailings. 

Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth addressed a list of items that were discussed at the last Plan Commission meeting. 
- Free standing sign only – Toth said there was some discussion on wall signage for led signs. This is something that has not been requested to date and therefore it was left alone as a free standing sign. 
- All other sign provisions of the sign ordinance – Toth said the Village will make sure the rest of the sign meets Village’s requirements.
- Removal of the 30% total sign area – this helps to encourage the signs to be stand alone LED signs as opposed to being a component of another sign. In keeping with the 25 square feet, Toth said he took a number that was already in the code and left it as is. The rational for the 25 s.f. is that of a place holder. It is a safeguard for the future so that any larger type LED signs would have to come back to the Plan Commission for a variance. 
- Fixtures would be typical of those for the LED signs. 
- Business owners, at their own discretion, would give the Village the ability to display emergency management messages on the sign itself. 

(Commissioner Lenkart arrived (7:05 p.m.)

- Time and duration of sign illumination – Toth said he took this out of the Amendment. There was a lot of discussion at the Development Committee level. The Village already has the illumination standards built within the sign ordinance that would require any property within 500 feet of a residence to turn off their lights at 11 p.m. or when a business closes. If the sign is not within 500 feet of a residence, the business could keep the sign illuminated for 24 hours. 

Toth recommended approval of the text amendment to the sign ordinance.

Commissioner Lenkart asked if the LED sign should be framed within the natural framework of brick or wood instead of having only a metal frame. Toth said this is already covered in a portion of the code. Duncan said she did not want the sign to be a block of the LED with nothing around it and would prefer a frame. 

Pete Iosue said there is a requirement that the base be masonry but does not require anything around the edges of the sign. If the Plan Commission desired a frame around the sign, it would need to be added to the code. 

Commissioner Duncan said that the 25 s.f. is fairly conservative and asked about the cost for the petitioner to go through the variance process. Toth said the cost would be $750. Duncan said that was her concern with deciding if the 25 s.f. is too conservative where everyone will try and get a variance at great expense or be hindered by it because it is expensive. 

Commissioner Lenkart said that Commissioner Anderson mentioned pixel density in the last meeting. Anderson said that pixel density is a good way to limit the utilization because the more dense the pixelization, the higher the cost. Pete Iosue said he would definitely encourage a higher quality sign but couldn’t come up with a good way to address it due to cost and not knowing where to draw the line as far as what is good enough or isn’t good enough. 

Chairman Brackett asked if Pete Iosue or Mike Toth had heard of pixel requirements in other communities. Iosue said he had not come across that but could check on it with someone he knows at Aurora Sign Company. 

Chairman Brackett asked if the Plan Commission was in favor of a minimum pixel density. Anderson said he was interested in looking into it. Tuohy and Rivecco said they were neutral. Duncan said she did not want to put that standard in the sign ordinance. Lenkart said he was in favor of exploring it. Commissioners Carroll and Holbrook said they were not in favor of the requirement. Carroll said we are in a recession now and there are so many vacant areas in the Village. If someone is going to put up an LED sign, it will look better than what is there now. Commissioner Bozik said he was neutral and wouldn’t mind seeing the research, but did not want to create a standard. Bozik added that the market will drive itself. If someone puts up a bad sign it will be a reflection on their business. 

Brackett said that the Plan Commission would be in favor of getting more information regarding pixelization but would not want to move forward with a minimum requirement. 

Chairman Brackett closed the public portion of the hearing.
Iosue noted that in the new zoning ordinance, for zoning and text amendments, there will be a chart that shows the 15 criteria. Some are marked just for zoning amendments and some are for text amendments. 

1. Does the proposed amendment promote the public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the Village? 
Roll Call Vote: Carroll – yes, Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes, Lenkart – yes, Duncan – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0). 

2. Does the proposed amendment provide a relative gain to the public as compared to the hardship imposed on the applicant? 
Roll Call Vote: Rivecco – yes, Tuohy – yes, Anderson – yes, Duncan – yes, Lenkart – yes, Carroll – yes, Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0).

3. Is the proposed amendment consistent with the Comprehensive Plan? 
Roll Call Vote: Lenkart – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes, Anderson – yes, Duncan – yes, Carroll – yes, Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0). 

4. Is the proposed amendment consistent with the intent and general regulations of this ordinance? 
Roll Call Vote: Duncan – yes, Lenkart – yes, Bozik – yes, Carroll – yes, Holbrook – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0).

5. Does the proposed amendment correct an error or an omission, add clarification to existing requirements or reflect a change in policy? 
Roll Call Vote: Rivecco – yes, Tuohy – yes, Anderson – yes, Duncan – yes, Lenkart – yes, Carroll – yes, Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0). 

6. Does the proposed amendment benefit the residents of the Village as a whole and not just the applicant, property owner, neighbors of any property under consideration or other special interest groups?
Roll Call Vote: Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes, Carroll – yes, Lenkart – yes, Duncan – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0).

7. Does the proposed amendment provide a more workable way to achieve the intent and purposes of the ordinances and the Comprehensive Plan? 
Roll Call Vote: Holbrook – yes, Bozik – yes, Carroll – yes, Lenkart – yes, Duncan – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0). 

8. Does the proposed amendment avoid creating non-conformities? 
Roll Call Vote: Tuohy – yes, Anderson – yes, Rivecco – yes, Duncan – yes, Lenkart – yes, Holbrook – yes, Carroll – yes, Bozik – yes. (Agree – 8, Disagree – 0). 

Commissioner Lenakrt noted a typo in #12 – “purpose of their ordinance” should read “purpose of the ordinance”. 
Motion made by Commissioner Rivecco and seconded by Commissioner Duncan to approve the text amendment. All in favor. Motion approved.

1. Dee Road - Toth proposed creating a mechanism to allow legal nonconforming structures to be replaced in the event the property were to be damaged or destroyed beyond 50% of its value. This would allow one to rebuild a house as it was lawfully established at one point. It settles some of the financing and refinancing issues that the lenders will have with these sorts of properties. Toth said he provided some of the language to counsel for review. 

This would focus primarily on residential properties and looks at each property on a case-by-case basis and warrants whether or not a special use would be allowable for the property. With any special use case, the Village could also attach conditions.

Commissioner Duncan said she liked the proposal. Duncan asked if this would calm the fears of those who were concerned about the zoning staying the same. Toth said he was not sure if it would calm their fears. This would keep the property as is. Duncan asked how this would affect the property owner who had a refinancing problem. Toth said he has been communicating with the property owner and they have received positive feedback regarding refinancing of the home. 

Commissioner Carroll asked if this would address any other properties in the Village. Iosue said that is probably the case and that right before the former Community Development Director left, he was starting to look at different areas of the Village specifically for these types of issues. Carroll asked if this would remedy the situation. Toth said it would only remedy it if they were to come to the Village for the approval. Otherwise, it would be legal nonconforming. 

Brackett said this gives the Village the opportunity to work with current property owners. Toth said that this issue is usually comes up when people are looking for financing or refinancing. It is driven by financing issues. Carroll said this would still appease the opposition by doing it this way because they will still be able to come in and complain within the special use process. 

The Plan Commission was in favor of the concept. Commissioner Anderson asked if it would be fair to say that this is an effort to provide some equitable safeguard for a property owner to financially secure his property and possibly maintain it going forward. Toth said that is a very good point since a lot of time when refinancing, it includes doing improvements on the property. Commissioner Bozik said he would also like to see what counsel comes back with. 
Toth said that counsel’s comments are very important. Will also look into transferability rights within the provisions of the existing non-conformity standards. 


Commissioner Carroll asked if there are any new projects. Toth said he is working on setting up a spreadsheet document that aligns all current, future and past development and would attach this to the Plan Commission packets each month. 

Motion to adjourn made by Commissioner and seconded by Commissioner. All in favor. Motion approved.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lori J. Murray
Village Clerk

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