News - McHenry County

Woodstock businesses can now keep temporary signs up longer, rotate messages on electronic signs more frequently

Officials said its an effort to help both businesses, city staff

The historic Woodstock Square on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Woodstock has come into millions of dollars thanks to both a state grant and money it won last year as part of the T-Mobile contest. As a result, the city is undertaking a variety of projects around town, predominantly in the downtown area.

Businesses in Woodstock will have a little more opportunity for what they can do with their various signs and banners after the city council at its last meeting relaxed and clarified some of the city’s requirements.

The changes came in two separate items, both approved unanimously by the City Council at its Sept. 20 meeting. Outside of a couple of clarifying questions about the items, neither change saw much comment from council members.

The idea behind the changes is to give businesses more opportunity and leeway to display signage for their sales, Building and Zoning Director Joe Napolitano said at the meeting.

Along with helping the business community, the changes also benefit staff, with Napolitano calling the way some of the regulations were written “horrible” and hard to enforce.

“We’ve been told our regulations are a little [strict],” Napolitano said at the meeting. “We’ve talked to businesses about maybe loosening those regulations up. And that’s what we’ve tried to do.”

The first change dealt with temporary signs, which aimed to clarify a variety of requirements for them and clean up language in the village code, material from the village states. Council member Wendy Piersall recused herself for this vote, but did not state why at the meeting.

The second change was a more specific one aimed at the amount of time electronic messages may change. Electronic signs may now change every six seconds, which is a decrease from the 10 seconds that were required, village material states.

Some specific examples of temporary signs include grand opening signs, which may now be displayed for 30 days as opposed to 21 days, the updated code states.

Other temporary signs affected by the change include establishment location signs and sidewalk signs, village material states.

Changes to extraordinary promotional signs, which are defined as temporary signs that display promotions for a business, were also made. Businesses could have extraordinary signs for 60 total days throughout the year, and spread those days throughout four different time periods.

The 60-day requirement is being increased to 90 days, and businesses may now spread it out throughout six different time frames, according to the code.

Council member Darrin Flynn asked if banners are included in the ordinance, adding that some businesses have had banners displayed for several years.

Napolitano confirmed they were included, meaning those signs would only be able to be displayed a total of 90 days throughout the year.

“[Those signs] need to come up and they go down and they come up and they go down, they shouldn’t be staying up for three years,” Flynn said at the meeting.