Naperville Doesn’t Have A Heroin Problem, It Has A Lumen Problem

There was reason for celebration among Naperville city council members this week, when they found something else they can regulate. This time is was signage, both residential and business/commercial.

The Naperville city council meeting this Tuesday December 20 lasted for for 113 minutes, with 53 minutes devoted to discussing an ordinance to regulate signage; that’s  47% of the meeting. It must be very important, because I can’t remember a city council meeting discussing heroin usage for more than five minutes. Councilwoman Judy Brodhead recently said during a council meeting that the council talks about it all the time. It must be during closed session, because they don’t acknowledge the topic in any depth during open council meetings.

The City of Naperville conducted a survey on how large temporary signs should be. Naperville’s population is over 140,000 residents and less than 400 responses were received. With less than 0.3% of the population showing interest in the survey, the council used the results to determine residential temporary signs should be 2 X 2 (4 square feet), and business temporary signs should be 3 X 4 (12 square feet). There was no discussion about whether or not the Russians hacked into survey swaying the results.

The size of the signs wasn’t enough for the city council, they also want to regulate the light being emitted from changing (electronic) graphic signs. Watch and listen to the exchange between Naperville councilman Paul Hinterlong and Tim Felstrup from the Development Review Team as they discuss lumens and code enforcement with light meters:

So when the ordinance is passed the City of Naperville will have code enforcement officers running around with light meters measuring lumens. The Naperville city council will be regulating ‘lumens’ with undoubtedly not one of the nine being able to define what a lumen is. Much like when the city council was discussing regulating bee hives, but not one of the nine could correctly answer the question ‘What color is a honey bee?’

John Doyle from Chicago Sign and Light Company addressed the council regarding electronic boards (changing graphic signs) and questioned if the City had received any complaints about the signs emitting too much light. Crickets, apparently not. Watch and listen as he mentions ‘Dillon’s Rule’.

John Forrest Dillon was a Federal judge in Iowa in 1868 and regarding local municipalities he basically said they should only make ordinances or changes to ordinances if they are:

  1. Empowered to do it.
  2. If there is an overwhelming need to change something
  3. If there is no other way to solve the problem

Looks like the City didn’t give much thought, consideration, or importance to #2. What is the overwhelming problem? Looks like another solution in search of a problem. The Naperville city council specializes in that category.

Naperville residents and businesses need a ‘champion’ or better yet, five champions on the city council who deregulate rather than regulate. Champions who consider the above three factors regarding ordinances. If there is no other way to solve a problem other than an ordinance, then take two ordinances off the books. In time the book should be manageable.

Show 10 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    These nabobs of nepotism and negativism whose only functions seems to be to ruin the spirit of Christmas can never leave well enough alone. If it moves, smells, locates, brings pleasure, adds to citizens freedoms tax it. All codes allow the potential for fines and thus revenue. One more Dillon rule should be what is the revenue projection for this nitwit idea/code?

    Instead of regulating light output and sign sizes how about cutting our taxes by divesting the city of albatrosses like the electric company, ambulance service, bell towers, children’s museums etc.?

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    It is true council spends time on regulating what should be trivial matters, but because they were not anticipated and regulated from the start, have become a public issue. For example the neighbors that could not come to an agreement over lighting of a basketball court that ended up giving us a backyard lighting ordinance.

    Council ends up spending so much time on this trivial issues because Naperville has a significant number of neighbors that are incapable of behaving like adults. Their “my way or the highway’ confrontational attitude result in a “contest to see who’s is bigger” that they eventually drag city code enforcement into fray which result in council having to discuss yet another area in need or regulating.

    • Bob West

      Not quite sure why you are so defensive of the council. You have an excuse for everything they do. There are sub-committees that should handle the details and make recommendations. 47 minutes on such a trivial matter at the council level is a waste. Too many egos and attitudes on this council.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        Yes, most of my posts are defensive of the council members, this is simply because most sites like this one tend to only attract people who only want to complain, without concern for real world considerations. I am simply trying to provide some balance to the discussion.

        And if the city council was discussing something important to you (like the Ogden corridor) but unimportant to someone else (south Naperville resident), how would you like a post calling the time the council spent on it a waste?

        As to your egos and attitudes comment, the same statement could be made of people who are always posting to sites such as this.

  3. Bob West

    Absolute time waster. Why not regulate LED car break and tail lights or headlights that blind you? Those are more of a nuisance than digital signs. You could hire special enforcement officers to stand on curbs and measure the lumens coming from them. We need to replace the Council in total.

  4. Christopher Lawson

    So, basically, these are citizens (who write comments here) who object to the agenda of the council sessions?

    Did you really want more Talk about heroin and
    Less talk About signage?

    Is there a suggestion hidden in this complaint?

    • Bob West

      How about things like the Ogden corridor? And seeing as how you brought up Heroin, why not discuss the major drug issues that impact the community? Citizens aren’t allowed to object about agenda items? Isn’t that what this forum is about?

      • Jim Haselhorst

        The agenda is setup by city staff, not city council. Yes, individual council members can have staff add things to the agenda, but no member can instruct staff to delete items. And if three or more council members have some discussion of the agenda (physical of virtual) then it has to be open to the public under the state’s open meetings act.

        In short blaming city council for the contents of the agenda is pointless since they do not have complete control of what is and is not placed on the agenda.

        • Christopher Lawson

          Thanks for that information, Jim.

          It’s a reminder to ask questions, then shoot. Not the other way around.

  5. Julie Berkowicz

    At the risk of being battered, I am going to state some facts. And I should also add that I sat in that room at this meeting, listening to the entire exchange. And I have been attending every Council meeting so that I can experience the debates first hand. Here are some facts:
    *The horrendous electronic sign on Washington for the liposuction place is an embarrassment to the community that boasts it is family friendly.
    *The medical center on Washington that provides abortions is also a disgrace in the safest city of America as they are recently boasting. Safe for everyone but the unborn.
    *But wait, what about the suicide and drug overdose victims? Oh, well they weren’t killed, at least by a physical hand on another body so Naperville is still the safest city.
    *This Council is ready to enact this overreaching sign ordinance but only after the four City Council incumbents complete their campaign for the April 4th election. That is because these candidates have already have sunk so much cash into their sign inventories. Also, I wonder how much employee time($$$) and costs ($$$) they spent on this survey?
    *And who is watching out for the bees? Apparently good Samaritans worry about climate change and the destruction caused by human beings until it come to the defenseless bees. And all this based on a complaint from a resident whose water bath was so filled by bees that there was no room for the birds (unfortunately no documentation or pictures were provided). We got quite a chuckle when she shared that no human being or child had been harmed by these gruesome creatures. I would be willing to personally move all of her viscous bees to my yard, because I love the fruits and vegetables that they, and only they can provide us.
    So the city staff is obviously very busy, but they should be focusing on cutting red tape, reducing expenses and improving the quality and affordability of life for the Naperville community. Tax reduction should always be a primary goal and successful businesses to supplement the revenue stream.

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