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Local

County committee deadlocks on extending electronic sign moratorium

WOODSTOCK – The extension of a seven-month moratorium on new electronic billboards in unincorporated areas to a full year could face a close vote by the McHenry County Board.

Its Planning and Development Committee is sending the proposal to the full board without a recommendation after reaching a 3-3 impasse Thursday morning. The moratorium, imposed last September at the request of the county's three largest municipalities and the village of Lakewood, is set to expire April 17.

The original moratorium included a provision ending it upon County Board ratification of its Unified Development Ordinance. But the ordinance still is undergoing draft review and approval is months away – county staff had anticipated early 2013 approval at the time of the September moratorium vote.

The governments of Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Lakewood and Lake in the Hills asked the county last year for a moratorium out of frustration with a surge of requests by sign companies to erect the large video screens on unincorporated land outside their boundaries, where the county's sign rules are, for now, less strict.

Opponents of such signs allege that they cause light pollution, lower surrounding property values, and reduce driver safety.

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