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Our View: Get sign laws right

The McHenry County Board should again extend its moratorium on new electronic billboards being placed in unincorporated areas of the county.

But this should be the last extension.

In the meantime, we urge the County Board to approve more restrictive sign regulations that are more in line with municipal rules as part of its Unified Development Ordinance.

The County Board initially adopted a six-month moratorium last September after municipal governments from Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills and Lakewood asked for it. Local officials sought the temporary ban after an increase in requests by sign companies to erect large video billboards on unincorporated land just outside village and city limits.

The County Board already extended the moratorium once – in April. That extension is set to expire in mid-September, but the county’s new UDO will not be adopted by then.

The County Board’s Planning and Development Committee recommended that the moratorium be extended nine months to June 2014. If the UDO is approved before then, the moratorium could be lifted earlier.

Under its current UDO, the county’s sign rules are far less strict than the municipalities.

Under the new UDO being reviewed by the County Board, new electronic billboard restrictions require a conditional-use permit for construction, limit their height to 35 feet and their display area to 400 square feet. They also forbid animation, video and other movement, limit luminosity depending on time of day, and set minimum distances of 100 feet from residential and agricultural land and 300 feet from other signs.

We support the tighter restrictions, but recommend the minimum distances from residential and agricultural land be extended far beyond 100 feet.

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