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Mixed reaction for marketing signs in Blackberry Creek

Elburn officials not opposed to signs, but questions remain

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:02 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT

ELBURN – A home builder's request to add marketing signs near the Blackberry Creek community drew a mixed reaction Monday from Elburn Village Board members at a community of the whole meeting.

Citing a provision in the original annexation, Orleans Homes is seeking to put 20-by-10-foot, double-faced marketing signs along both Keslinger and Hughes roads. Erin Willrett, Elburn's village administrator, said staff was opposed to that. She said there are concerns, and that the original intent was for such signs to be controlled by original developer B&B Enterprises, which pulled out of the area years ago.

Rick Zirk, the director of land acquisitions for Orleans Homes, was at Monday's meeting. While Willrett cited concerns about the number of builders and developers wanting space on such a sign, Zirk said there could be criteria set that could determine who could have space on such a sign, based on how many lots were owned.

He said it could be viewed as "a marquee sign at a shopping center," in which there are smaller signs under a main sign.

In a letter to Willrett, Zirk mentioned that "as you can imagine, directing prospective buyers to the site is critical to the project's success." There would be space for four or eight builders "to equally place their company name on the sign." The letter suggested that there was "a clear right to install a sign."

Jeff Walter, an Elburn trustee and a Blackberry Creek resident, said he was "not opposed to the sign." He said those in Blackberry Creek want the undeveloped lots in the community to be sold. But he said Orleans Homes can't say it has declaratory rights that B&B had. And he said there would be concern about whether others wanted to be on the sign. Also, Walter said if such a sign were to be built, there should be a fee built in for its eventual teardown.

Willrett maintained that the agreement was meant for one developer, B&B. Another trustee, Bill Grabarek, agreed with the idea that the signs originally were intended for when B&B was in the area and that when the agreement was created, those involved "never would have imagined this was going to happen," meaning the economic conditions that caused the housing market to be greatly diminished.

Willrett said if trustees wanted staff to go forward with the idea, a lot of work would need to be done. Village President Dave Anderson suggested trustees provide some direction and questions for Willrett.

"We've got a lot more questions than we have answers," Anderson said.

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