Elburn discusses Blackberry Creek signage concerns

By on July 11, 2014

ELBURN—Elburn officials had “a lot more questions than answers” on Monday regarding a builder’s request to place marketing signage outside the Blackberry Creek subdivision.

Orleans Homes Director of Acquisition Rick Zirk attended Elburn’s Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss Orleans Homes’ request for approval to install a 20-foot by 10-foot double-faced sign along the road outside the subdivision to advertise lots for sale. Orleans Homes currently owns 45 lots within Blackberry Creek.

Orleans Homes’ request is for the sign itself to be builder-neutral, highlighting Blackberry Creek as a “good place to live,” with room at the bottom of the sign for the names of four-to-eight builders, including Orleans Homes.

“As you can imagine, directing prospective buyers to the site is critical to the project’s success,” Zirk stated in a recent memo to Village Administrator Erin Willrett.

However, Willrett said that village staff was in opposition to granting this request. She said that the intent of the original annexation agreement was that B&B Enterprises, Inc., the original developer of Blackberry Creek, would be in charge of the sign. B&B has since pulled out of the area, leaving the development a little more than half built out.

Willrett said village attorney Bob Britz was concerned that granting this request could lead to many signs along Hughes and Keslinger Road, as other builders would come forward with the same request.

Zirk, citing that the annexation agreement allowed for such signs to be placed by the “owners,” argued that Orleans Homes had paid for the assignment of those rights, and should be considered different from other builders who might own only one or two lots.

But trustee Jeff Walter, also a Blackberry Creek resident, took issue with Orleans Homes’ characterization of the facts.

“There’s a lot of landowners; there’s no developer out there,” Walter said.

Walter said that he and other Homeowner Association members were in favor of a sign, and that they were interested in seeing the rest of the development built out. However, he said they didn’t want to give preference to one builder over another. In addition, he said he wanted to make sure there was money set aside to take down the sign, once it was no longer needed.

“How do you make it fair to all the developers?” trustee Pat Schuberg asked. “I don’t know how you do that.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek said that the original annexation agreement had not contemplated the situation as it now exists.

“It’s not fair for the development community to be denied the right to a sign,” he said.

Village President Dave Anderson asked that trustees submit their thoughts and concerns regarding the situation to Willrett.

“We’ve got a lot more questions than we have answers,” he said. “This is new for all of us.”