Signs of the Times - August 2013 - (Page 96)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING By Wade Swormstedt “One question on the form asked how the land (where the sign would be located) was being used prior to September 1959.” Withdrawn and Quartered One man negates 14,000 permits. Dennis Co. in Illinois’ capital city, Springfield. Because Bringuet is the third-generation president of Ace Sign he’s active in his local chamber of commerce, he also sits on the Government Affairs Council. Approximately three years ago, Dennis was contacted by the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT). Four signs Ace had built for a development along I-72 were what IDOT called “undocumented.” Dennis was told the signs needed state permits, due to the Highway Adv. Control Act of 1971 which, previously, had only concerned billboards. He pointed out that all of the signs had the required local permit. “But I guess you had some 30-year-old, who figured that on-premise signs are, well, outdoor, and they’re advertising, so they must be outdoor advertising,” Dennis reasoned. IDOT spent a reported $4.9 million to hire a company to drive around in a van and take pictures of every sign “visible” from the interstate. (Ironically, Ace produced the vehicle graphics for the van.) Someone at IDOT apparently was afraid it would lose federal funding if it didn’t enforce the alleged 1971 mandate. Approximately a year later, with Phase 1 of the inventory completed, IDOT sent out approximately 14,000 letters to the end users, informing them their signs were “undocumented.” The sign owners were told they had 30 days to apply for the state permit, and failure to comply could mean the sign would be removed at the owner’s expense. “We received calls from 14 of our customers, who were asking us why we hadn’t gotten the required permits,” Dennis recalled. Enter the Government Affairs Council. Dennis alerted the group about this enforcement. The chairman of the council was a realtor. Soon, realtors and developers started getting letters that said they needed permits for their “for sale” signs. The chairman alerted the Illinois Assn. of Realtors. Other Council members alerted the 3,500-member Illinois Retail Merchants Assn., which includes, as Dennis puts it, “some little companies like McDonald’s and Walgreens.” The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Illinois Hotel-Motel Assn. became interested, and a conference call of these interested parties included the Intl. Sign Assn.’s David Hickey (VP of government relations) and Kenny Peskin (manager of state and local government affairs). A meeting was arranged with the Illinois governor’s office, IDOT, and the realtors’ and retail merchants’ groups. (The IDOT director didn’t know the letters had been sent, Dennis said.) 96 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / AUGUST 2013 / Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) subsequently became the primary sponsor (the bill had 12 total sponsors) of HB 2764, which would amend the 1971 Act. Dennis said she originally proposed legislation that would have deleted the Act’s Section 8, which concerned permit fees. However, the unpermitted signs would still, in essence, be illegal. Dennis knew a retired Illinois building and zoning director, and he solicited his help to craft an amendment to the Act. Scherer was open to the suggestions, Dennis said. HB 2764 was introduced on February 21, passed by the House 118-0 on April 19 and by the Senate (58-0 with one abstention) on May 30. With a third amendment, it passed both houses the following day, and was sent to Governor Pat Quinn’s office on June 19. He’s expected to sign it sometime this month. The full text of the amended bill can be read at http://openstates. org/il/bills/98th/HB2764/documents/ILD00133431/. Had this not passed, the permit form presumably would have remained in effect. Dennis said one question on the form asked how the land (where the sign would be located) was being used prior to September 1959. It required a licensed surveyor to document the sign’s location. Dennis estimates that, at minimum, the permit process for a sign would have been four months, and that wouldn’t even account for design/fabrication/ installation. Everything resulted from a very efficient, coordinated effort by the sign industry at the local, state and national level. But when I contacted Brian Swingle, the executive director of the “other” ISA (Illinois Sign Assn.), he flatly stated, “I have to give all of the credit to Dennis Bringuet.” As for Dennis, he figures, if this had occurred 10 years ago, he wouldn’t have had the time to become involved. But with a subsequent generation (two sons and a nephew) now working at Ace, he could. “But I think this points out that every sign company should be active in its local chamber of commerce,” Dennis concluded. ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - August 2013

Signs of the Times - August 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Cloud-based signshop software
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Electric
LED Update
Software Update
Technology Review - Esko Kongsberg XN finishing system
Technology Review - Gerber Edge seminars
Sign Museum News
New Products
Standing Their Ground
Commercial-Sign Company 1 on 1’s
Dynamic Displays at LAX
Advertising index
Editorially speaking

Signs of the Times - August 2013