Skokie Review: Skokie panel backs looser restrictions on commercial electronic signs

Drive by the Oakton Community Center, Weber Park or the CTA station along Skokie Boulevard and you’ll see electronic signs flashing different pieces of information about upcoming events. 

Drive by an electronic sign outside any Skokie business, however, and you’ll find a static, single piece of information. The content on that electronic sign will not change until the next day and cannot change until then in order to adhere to village code.

The different playing field for commercially-owned and government-owned electronic signs needs to be leveled, Klein said.

Under a new recommendation by the Economic Development Commission, businesses would be able to change content on their electronic signs by the minute, which is in keeping with many other municipalities, Klein said.

While the current restrictions were based on concerns about safety for distracted drivers, Klein said the Commission found that there is no evidence to support the concern. The recommended change is scheduled to go before the Village Board soon, he said.

“I think there was agreement that not allowing changes (for commercial electronic signs) for 24 hours was not necessary,” Klein said.

He also said that the concern is especially invalid since there are many non-commercial electronic signs in Skokie that have regular content changes.

One of the more adamant proponents of the sign code change was commission member Randy Miles, owner of the Village Inn and president of the Independent Merchants of Downtown Skokie. Miles doesn’t have an electronic sign for his business, but he sees Skokie’s restrictions as outdated and business-unfriendly.

“I’d like to think Skokie is in the curve and not behind it,” he said at the public hearing. “I travel a fair amount, and I see a lot of different communities, and I think there is a case for moving electronic signs. I’ve felt that way for quite some time.”

Klein said he believes the recommended change will not become a contentious issue as there seems to be agreement in the village that it is overdue.

The Economic Development Commission also looked at other aspects of the sign current code including restrictions for sandwich or A-frame signs. Other recommendations about the sign code could come before the Village Board at a later time, Klein said.

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Twitter: @SKReview_Mike