Dimming Development

LAKEWOOD – Usually when a municipality holds a public hearing, residents who speak are against or upset by the issue at hand.

However, on Monday, the Lakewood Village Board heard from someone offering her assistance.

The Lakewood Village Board held a public hearing to discuss establishing a moratorium on issuing special permits for vehicle sales, building permits for constructing storage sheds and zoning permits for electronic-advertising signs. David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, said Kelly Vik, Smart By Design owner with her husband, Mike, spoke during the public hearing, and is in favor of putting regulations on electronic-advertising signs.

Vik, who sells the high-definition LED signs at her business, let the board know she could help update the village zoning code. Wordelmann said because the signs are a newer item, created after the last time village officials updated the zoning code, the board wants to control the brightness of the signs at night so they don’t distract drivers.

“We were pleasantly surprised she was in favor of putting regulations on them,” Wordelmann said. “She offered her and her husband’s help in putting the right verbiage in the zoning code, as far as the technical wording.”

Wordelmann said the village will also rely on another municipality for help when writing the zoning update.

“Fredonia has already addressed it. That is something for us to look at as far as a model,” he said. ”It is not that we want to get rid of (the signs), we just want to put some levels on them. Trying to control the output at night.”

After the public hearing, the board passed the moratorium motion on issuing permits while zoning laws are updated. There is no timetable set on when the moratorium will expire. However, Wordelmann said the board wants to make the updates as quickly as possible.

Last month, Wordelmann said village officials want to update zoning laws to have a more detailed design layout plan for Fairmount Avenue and other areas of the village. The mayor said with more detailed zoning laws, potential issues could be avoided. One example for special-use permits for vehicle sales is the recent disagreement with Lawrence Spacciapolli for a used-car lot across from Wal-Mart.

The board in January approved a special-use permit for the car dealership after first denying the application in November. The board approved the special-use permit with guidelines following the ruling by 8th Judicial District Supreme Court Justice James Dillon. In December, Dillon overturned the Village Board’s decision to deny the permit.

Throughout the process of discussing the special-use permit, each board member heard from several residents voicing their displeasure about the proposal for a car lot at the location. One concern dealt with safety because it is a busy intersection. Another question was whether it is the best spot for a car dealership, or if maybe the land would be better suited for a different business. Board members had suggested to Spacciapolli in their opinion a better location for the used-car lot may be farther west on Fairmount Avenue where other dealerships are located. According to the court transcript, Dillon stated the board couldn’t deny the permit based on concerned residents.

For storage structures, Wordelmann said zoning laws need to be updated so they are not built by individuals in residential areas. The mayor said the updated zoning laws would also address storage shed businesses. He said, as of now, there are none in the village, but they want to update zoning laws to be proactive in setting criteria on where they can be located.