STERLING – The City Council approved changes to the sign ordinance Monday, allowing two signs on retail tenant space in the Highway Business District.
The council on Oct. 7 voted to approve the petition from Sterling Commons Development Inc. to amend the code. That approval came despite the planning commission’s recommendation to deny the petition. Monday’s vote looked the same, with Alderman-At-Large John Stauter again the lone dissenter.
The ordinance change was prompted by the possible loss of two retail tenants – Verizon Wireless and Kay Jewelers – if they were not allowed to have signs on both sides of the corner units of the building at 4204 E. Lincolnway.
After Monday’s vote, Stauter maintained that the ordinance the planning commission spent a great deal of time developing was working just fine.
“We spent 15 to 18 months studying it,” he said. “We took pictures, did interviews, and we involved the business owners. If it had been 5-2, maybe I’d feel a bit differently, but both times the commission voted unanimously.”
Stauter also is concerned that the process could be setting a troubling precedent.
“What are we gonna do with the next person that wants a higher sign?” he asked.
Mayor Skip Lee said he didn’t share that concern, pointing out that before the panel’s overhaul, signs on both sides of a corner business were already allowed.
“The signage we passed was already there before,” Lee said. “It’s not aesthetically objectionable. We’re just allowing these businesses to be consistent with their development.”
The mayor said the planning commission’s wishes were not ignored.
“They made their recommendation, and we took their piece of the puzzle and plugged it in,” Lee said. “But it’s the council’s job to look at issues from a broad perspective.”
Lee said the sign code is still a work in progress.
“Things need to be tweaked in all ordinances,” he said.
City Manager Scott Shumard reported that city officials met with the actuary Monday regarding funding of the police and fire department pension funds.
The city anticipates a 4.9 percent increase, down from last year’s 6.99 percent increase.
“That’s about what we were expecting,” Shumard said.
Shumard said a tax levy amount recommendation should be ready for the next meeting agenda.
The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.
Go to www.ci.sterling.il.us/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.