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Getting some tips from the big city

Spring Valley studies Chicago’s LED sign ordinance

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 12:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 6, 2014 1:07 p.m. CDT

SPRING VALLEY — The Spring Valley City Council is putting an ordinance together that will better regulate the LED advertising signs popping up around the city.

The signs have been a concern among residents who live near two LED signs recently erected on Dakota Street. The residents have complained the lights were too bright and bothersome during the evening hours.

At Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting, Spring Valley City Attorney Jim Andreoni shared the city of Chicago’s ordinance used to regulate illuminance of LED signs near residential areas.

Upon talking with a representative of Chicago, Andreoni was surprised to discover there were also issues in the city with LED signs affecting residential areas. He explained Chicago manages their signs with illuminance measurements — Illuminance being the formal metric measure of luminous intensity per unit area of light traveling in a given direction.

Illuminance is measured in candela per square meter or NIT. A device is used to measure the amount of NITS a sign is giving off at a particular time.

Chicago uses a system where a sign can only be so many NITS during the evening hours. For example, between the times of 5 a.m. and sunset, signs in a specific area can only be a maximum of 7,000 NITS.

It was also noted in the Chicago ordinance that signs in a particular area could not be illuminated between midnight and 5 a.m., unless the business is open.

“If we are going to do this and we have to tell someone to turn it down or we’re going to fine them, then we need to make sure we have the equipment to prove that they are in violation of it,” Andreoni said.

Police Chief Kevin Sangston said he would take a trip to the suburbs of Chicago to gather more information on the type of device used to measure the LED signs. He will also get a cost estimate on the device and find out how they are operated.

In the meantime, Andreoni will be drafting an ordinance for Spring Valley based on Chicago’s ordinance. Names of businesses that already have the LED signs will be collected and sent a draft copy of the ordinance.

Andreoni suggested the council invite the business owners to the next committee meeting to see if they are OK with the ordinance and to find out any legitimate concerns.

If there happens to be concerns the city did not consider, Andreoni said the ordinance could be tweaked to accommodate the legitimate concern.

The council is expected to receive a draft copy of the ordinance at Monday’s council meeting.

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