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Neighborhood Wins Battle, Digital Billboard on Western Removed

By Benjamin Woodard | August 18, 2014 4:16pm
 The sign, at 6958 N. Western Ave., was removed on judge's orders.
The sign, at 6958 N. Western Ave., was removed on judge's orders.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

WEST ROGERS PARK — The digital sign at Western and Lunt avenues — which residents last year likened to a "Jumbotron" — has been removed on a judge's orders.

"The neighborhood won a battle," said Jared Leonard, whose restaurant, Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse, is around the corner. "No one liked them. No one would look at them and say, 'That’s a great addition to the skyline.' "

Last week, the light-emitting diode sign was removed from the building at 6958 N. Western Ave. after a judge ordered Digital Greensigns to strip it from the building by Sept. 2, according to a report in the Sun-Times, which also linked gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner with the billboard company.

The judge also will decide whether the billboard company and the property owner, Nasrullah Khan, of Asasa, LLC, will be required to pay as much as $2 million in fines for not having the proper permit for the sign.

Khan, who said last year that the sign was appropriate for busy Western Avenue, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Digital Greensigns CEO Joe Mancino declined to comment on the lawsuit, but did say none of his company's other signs had been removed, "and I have no reason to believe that they would."

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said Friday she was "very pleased" to announce that the sign in her ward had been removed.

"This sign was installed without the correct permits and the court ordered it to be taken down," she said in a message to constituents. "I would like to thank everyone who contacted me about this sign and worked to have it removed."

The sign had been installed on the corner of the building, above the entrance to a convenience store. The corner, however, is at a 45-degree angle, which allowed the sign to sit nearly flush to the property line.

Last year, a camera attached to the top of the sign clearly extended above the sidewalk. It was quickly removed.

Since then, Silverstein and her colleagues in City Hall first passed a moratorium on the signs, then passed an ordinance that limited their brightness and size.

Meanwhile, the city has moved forward with its 20-year deal with a private company to erect 62 digital billboards on public property along expressways. The deal is expected to bring in millions for the city.

Amie Zander, director of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce, had criticized the sign on Western.

"Everyone is really happy it came down," she said. "It really affected a lot of people."

Added Leonard: "It feels like a small win for the people."

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