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Lakewood looks to annex property to stop sign

LAKEWOOD – By annexing about 5 acres along Route 47, the village is looking to derail a proposed electronic sign near the municipality.

Lakewood has called a special meeting Sept. 18 to vote on whether to annex five parcels in unincorporated McHenry County.

At a meeting earlier this month, the Village Board unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a county moratorium that would temporarily stop all requests for off-premises commercial advertising, regular or electronic.

Atlas Digital Outdoor filed applications for a billboard at Route 47 and Route 176 with the county and Illinois Department of Transportation. The business seeks to construct a 15-foot-tall, 90-square-foot, full-color, high-definition electronic sign there.

Annexing the property would effectively stop the sign from being erected. Lakewood’s sign ordinance does not allow billboards.

Village officials expressed frustration with sign companies that are “rushing” to take advantage of the county’s more lax sign regulations before the county approves a unified development ordinance that likely will create stricter sign regulations.

“We think that signs companies are taking advantage of the fact that the county’s Unified Development Ordinance is under review,” Lakewood Village Manager Catherine Peterson said. “I think everybody anticipates there will be more strict regulations on these signs. [They’re] taking advantage of [regulations that are] not in place yet, and trying to get as many signs as possible.”

The Lakewood-based business feels slighted by the village’s latest move.

“The village never made an attempt to contact our company and fully understand our project,” Atlas owner Patrick Yuk said. “The village jumped on the anti-digital bandwagon.”

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