SYCAMORE – Kishwaukee College could soon welcome visitors and students with the bright lights of a new sign.
DeKalb County Public Hearing Officer Ron Klein gave a favorable recommendation to Kishwaukee College officials Thursday for five new signs, including one primary identification sign that would have electronic, changeable copy on the corner of Malta Road and Route 38.
College officials need an exemption from county code that makes electronic signs illegal. Klein said Kishwaukee College has different circumstances from most agricultural businesses in unincorporated DeKalb County.
He said he was comfortable with the wording of the new ordinance – allowing educational institutions with an enrollment of 5,000 students or more to have electronic signs – would sufficiently limit any future signs.
Paul Miller, the county’s planning and zoning director, said his staff agreed an exemption could be made for the college, but warned it could lead to future requests from other businesses.
“Any time we amend the ordinance ... we do open the doors for others,” Miller said.
The fear of setting precedence with too many exemptions to county code is what led Miller to hold firm on the height of the proposed signs.
College officials had requested signs a half inch taller than the county limit of 8 feet, but Miller said unless there was a valid reason for doing so, the request should be denied. Kishwaukee representatives said it should not be a problem to adjust the drawings and Klein agreed to recommend an enforcement of the 8-foot limit.
“It sounds picky, but zoning sometimes is,” Miller said.
Kishwaukee College spokeswoman Kayte Hamel said she was pleased with the recommendation and called the signs an important addition to the campus makeover that has been in progress since 2007.
While there would be five signs total, she said the large electronic sign on Malta Road and Route 38 would be especially helpful in promoting programs and events at the college in a timely manner and reduce the use of temporary banners and yard signs at the college.
Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice said it would guide visitors who may have a hard time finding the college among the cornfields.
“We need to make sure we have clear signage,” he said. “We think the design and the plan for this has been terrific.”
Two other illuminated, but non-electronic, signs would be constructed off Malta Road entrances and near the entrances to the college’s ring road.
The proposal still needs County Board approval.