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Extension of electronic billboard ban moves forward

McHenry County Board faces September vote

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 3:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 10:48 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A second extension of a yearlong ban on electronic billboards in unincorporated areas is on its way to the McHenry County Board.

Its Planning and Development Committee voted Thursday morning, 4-0, to recommend extending the moratorium an additional nine months to June 18, 2014. The moratorium, which applies to electronic billboards off premises from commercial properties, is set to expire Sept. 18.

Like the original six-month moratorium enacted in September 2012 and its subsequent six-month extension in April, this latest one also contains a provision allowing it to expire sooner should the county approve its unified development ordinance. The estimated completion date for the UDO, which will update and merge all of the county’s development-related regulations, is now early summer 2014, according to county staff.

The main reason this latest extension is nine months instead of six is to ensure that the UDO will be ready by next summer and the ordinance will not require another extension. The State’s Attorney’s Office already has advised against extending the moratorium beyond one year.

The extension will be put on 30-day review, and the County Board will vote on it at its evening meeting Sept. 17, hours before the ban otherwise would lapse.

The County Board first enacted the temporary ban at the request of the governments of Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills and Lakewood. They were upset that sign companies were seeking to erect large video billboards on unincorporated land outside their boundaries, where the county’s sign rules are less strict.

County staff had received six building permit requests in the months leading to the moratorium. Crystal Lake and Lakewood were forced to annex land to prevent two of the billboards from being erected.

Committee members approved the recommendation without comment. The only public comment offered was from Algonquin Community Development Director Russell Farnum, who said village government supports the extension.

The Planning and Development Committee is meeting four times a month to continue its review of the 20 chapters of the UDO’s first draft. After review, the draft must go out for public comment and public review and face subsequent revision prior to County Board ratification.

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