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Digital Billboard on Western Avenue 'Hideous,' Neighbors Say

 Neighbors say a digital billboard erected above the storefront of a convenience store earlier this month at Western and Lunt avenues is "ugly" and "hideous."
Digital Billboard
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WEST ROGERS PARK — Neighbors say a digital billboard erected above the storefront of a convenience store earlier this month at Western and Lunt avenues is "ugly" and "hideous."

The LED-powered sign also drew ire from the alderman and a local chamber of commerce.

"I've got a ton of complaints," said Amie Zander, the director of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce. "Everyone hates it."

The approximately 100-square-foot sign went up in early June, facing north on the busy intersection.

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) also has heard criticism from her constituents about the sign erected by Digital Greensigns above the corner store at 6958 N. Western Ave., she said.

"There are some people that are not happy about the sign," Silverstein said Monday. "I’m hearing from my constituents."

Other aldermen have expressed concern about the electronic signs popping up all over the city, according to a report last week in the Tribune.

Three other aldermen said the company attempted to circumvent ward approval for some signs that extend over sidewalks and would need public-use permits, according to the report.

Joseph Mancino, CEO of the digital billboard company, wouldn't comment on other signs, but said the sign in West Rogers Park was erected lawfully and in compliance with a building permit.

The city confirmed that the company obtained the proper building permit and that it was located snuggly enough up against the single-story commercial building not to need a public-use permit.

A camera installed by the sign company to monitor advertisements, however, was removed because it extended over the sidewalk, said Jennifer Lipford, a spokesman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Silverstein said the city and her colleagues are looking into whether the signs are entirely lawful.

"I’m trying to work to come to some resolution," she added.

Nearby business owner Jared Leonard, of Rub's Backcountry Steakhouse, said the sign was more of a "Jumbotron" than a billboard.

"I mean, come on," he said. "It’s a nice building. It’s a nice neighborhood. It looks obnoxious. It’s not Times Square."

He said if the sign advertised a neighborhood business — or the business directly below it — he wouldn't have a problem.

"I think people don’t like the idea that it was done just for money," he added.

Ann Glapa, who lives nearby, said the billboard is "ugly" and "hideous".

"What else can I say?" she said. "It is too big for the building."

The property owner, Nasrullah Khan, said in a phone interview that the sign was appropriate for busy Western Avenue, where buses and thousands of cars drive by at all hours of the day.

"I don’t think it’s causing any problems to the neighbors," he said. "I have other commercial properties, and I have big signs, and nobody was annoyed."

Glapa said she acknowledged Khan's property rights.

"Ugliness is his right," she said.