Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Plan Commission - February 16, 2011

Village of Gurnee
Plan Commission Minutes
February 16, 2011

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M.
Plan Commission Members Present:       Chairman James Sula, Stephen Park, David Nordentoft, Richard McFarlane, Gwen Broughton, Sharon Salmons, and Patrick Drennan
Plan Commission Members Absent:        None
Other Officials Present:                          Doug Stiles, Acting Village Attorney, and Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager
1.       Approval of the January 19, 2011 Plan Commission Meeting Minutes
Mr. Nordentoft made a motion, seconded by Ms. Salmons, to approve the Plan Commission Meeting Minutes for
January 19, 2011.
Roll Call
Ayes:                Park, Nordentoft, McFarlane, Broughton, Salmons, Drennan, and Sula
Nays:                None
Abstain:            None
Motion Carried: 7-0-0
2.       Public Hearing: Chuck E Cheese, 1512 Nations Drive, Special Use Permit
Ms. Velkover stated that Chuck E Cheese recently received approval of a minor amendment to the PUD to allow a 4,000 sq. ft. addition to the north side of their building. As part of the expansion, they are proposing to install all new site and building signage. Part of their new signage plans includes the installation of LED tubing around the top of the building. Specifically, 111 feet of LED along the top of the south wall, 5.5 feet of LED that wraps along both the east and west walls, and 41.5 feet of LED tubing on the north wall. LED tubing that is outside a sign face requires a Special Use Permit, per the sign ordinance. Each linear foot of LED counts as 1 sq. ft. of sign area.
The changes proposed to the wall and ground signs will result in a reduction of approximately 46.5 sq. ft. of signage. In addition, Chuck E Cheese is proposing to remove all of the translucent internally illuminated awnings that constitute approximately 384 sq. ft. of signage. The new sign ordinance prohibits these types of awnings. Chuck E Cheese was approved with the translucent illuminated awnings prior to the new sign code. In exchange for removing these illuminated awnings Chuck E Cheese is proposing a total of 163.5 linear feet of LED tubing around the top of a portion of their building. Overall, the change in all of the signs (ground, wall, awnings and LED) will result in a loss of approximately 267 sq. ft. of sign area for the site.
Ms. Debbie Stellar, with Starlite Sign, stated that Chuck E Cheese has changed the mouse on their logo, as well as their company colors. Therefore, they are proposing to install all new building and ground signs, remove the translucent illuminated awnings and install metal awnings with lights mounted underneath to provide illumination for the sidewalks. Chuck E Cheese chose to propose LED only in areas that accent their building architecture; the arched areas on the north and south walls of the building. Only a small portion of LED wraps around to the east and west walls. The tubing will be covered with a clear plastic that helps diffuse the light source. LED is also energy efficient and not as bright or garish as neon tubing. 
Mr. Park asked if the LED tubing was something unique to the Gurnee site because Chuck E Cheese wanted to be more visible, or if it was standard on Chuck E Cheese buildings.
Ms. Stellar stated that Chuck E Cheese uses LED to highlight the architectural elements (arches) on their building. Shoe noted that on this site they actually chose to eliminate it from certain areas that were not highly visible in recognition of Gurnee’s strict code.
Mr. McFarlane stated that he appreciates the sign changes that are being proposed and believes that these are mostly good changes. Specifically, the elimination of the wall sign along the west wall and replacement with a smaller sign along the north wall. However, he feels that highlighting the arches of the building can be accomplished just as effectively with a painted band along the top of the building, instead of with LED tubing.   He noted that the application of LED tubing to the top of the building would be bright and garish.
Mr. Drennan questioned whether any of the other businesses in this development have LED or neon.
Ms. Stellar indicated that no other businesses in this center have LED tubing; but the wall and ground signs are very similar to those existing for the other businesses.
Ms. Velkover stated that there are some businesses in the area that have neon tubing around the tops of their buildings. For instance, the Outback Steakhouse to the south and the Wendy’s further west on Grand. She noted that many of the building applications seen around town are neon and not LED. The former Yao Yao’s Restaurant, located at the northwest corner of Delaney and Rt. 41, might have replaced their neon tubing with LED. However, if they did, the majority of the time this facility was in operation it had neon around the top of the building.
Mr. Park asked if the LED would have reflectors built into the housing unit.
Ms. Stellar stated that reflectors are not proposed; only a clear panel to cover the LED to further diffuse the light that is already less garish than neon.
Mr. McFarlane noted that LED is used for vehicle lights (i.e., brake lights, etc.) and that they are very bright; not
Mr. Park asked how long sign lights can be left illuminated.
Ms. Velkover responded that signs can remain illuminated 24-hours a day.
Ms. Stellar stated that Chuck E Cheese’s policy is to turn their sign lights off at the close of business.
Mr. Nordentoft stated that the removal of 384 sq. ft. of translucent awnings is a significant improvement. In addition, LED is not as bright as neon, especially given that there are no reflectors proposed and a clear lens to disperse the light. He noted that vehicle lights that are LED are made to be bright for safety reasons. He didn’t think the comparison was appropriate. He also noted that the location of the proposed installation, along a commercial corridor that is a substantial distance away from residential, should not result in any negative impacts.
Mr. Park also noted that LED associated with an entertainment use and in a commercial corridor, in the amount proposed, given the elimination of other signage on the site, meets the standards for issuance of a special use permit.
Mr. Nordentoft made a motion, seconded by Ms. Broughton, to forward a favorable recommendation on the petition of Chuck E Cheese to allow the installation of LED tubing outside a sign face, subject to the following conditions:
1.       The removal of the translucent illuminated awnings and, if replaced, a non-translucent awning material must be used that does not contain any sign message or logos; and
2.       The LED tubing is limited to what is reflected on the plans prepared by Starlite Signs dated 9-3-10.
Roll Call
Ayes:                Park, Nordentoft, Broughton, Salmons, Drennan, and Sula
Nays:                McFarlane
Abstain:            None
Motion Carried:        6-1-0
3.       Chairman Sula announced that the next meeting date is scheduled for March 2, 2011
4.       Adjournment
Mr. Nordentoft made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Mr. Drennan.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:53 P.M.
Respectfully Submitted,
Tracy Velkover
Plan Commission Secretary
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