Surprising Stuff

Even when city ordinances are clearly stated, the enforcement of those ordinances can seem as arbitrary or selectively enforced although they are being quite legally enforced. This kind of thing happens when an ordinance is specifically written for the benefit of one group at the expense of another. The best example of this is the City of Lake Geneva’s “In-Window Signs” ordinance that limits the maximum area of a (each) written text message signs to not exceed fifteen (15%) percent of the area of the window. The ordinance is cleverly worded, so as to permit realtors to plaster their windows with signs and yet (as enforced) appear to prohibit other businesses from doing the same. However, by using the realtor loophole perhaps other business may also plaster their windows with in-window signs. Although there are limits on the size of in-window signs, the ordinance specifically states, “there is no limit to the number of in-window signs”, which is a loophole the realtors appear to be using. If this is not a loophole then why is the law not enforced on realtors? The “In-Window Sign” ordinance very likely was written specifically for the benefit of realtors. It has eight specific elements and, although it limits the size of the signs, it does not limit the number of signs and the ordinance wording appears to exclude In-Window Signs from all other regulations:

  • Maximum Size of the Text Message: shall be limited to a maximum area of the written sign text message that does not exceed fifteen (15%) percent of the area of the window. (Note: Words Text message)
  • Defines the area of the text message: The area of the text message shall be the smallest rectangular area that contains the entire text message.
  • Defines the text message: Text messages shall include letters, numerals, symbols, and product or company logos.
  • Defines what it does not include: Images, product displays, and wall boards that do not contain written text messages are not regulated by this rule.
  • Excludes this from other signage regulations: Area devoted to In-Window Signs shall not be counted as another type of sign area.
  • Unlimited number of signs: There is no limit in the number of In-Window Signs
  • In-window signs are not subject to: In- Window Signs shall not be subject to the design criteria of the Downtown Design District or other Overlay District regulations.
  • This ordinance appears to override all other ordinances: All signage in the city shall come into compliance with this requirement as of May 1, 2001 (Ord. No. 01-20 4/9/01

Actual Ordinance:

Section 98-804 General Signage Regulations: (1) Sign Prohibitions and Limitations: “(m) In-Window Signs shall be limited to a maximum area of written sign text message that does not exceed fifteen (15%) percent of the area of the window. The area of the text message shall be the smallest rectangular area that contains the entire text message. Text messages shall include letters, numerals, symbols, and product or company logos. Images, product displays, and wall boards that do not contain written text messages are not regulated by this rule. The area devoted to In-Window Signs shall not be counted as another type of sign area. There is no limit in the number of In-Window Signs and In-Window Signs shall not be subject to the design criteria of the Downtown Design District or other Overlay District regulations. All signage in the City shall come into compliance with this requirement as of May 1, 2001. (Ord. No. 01-20 4/9/01).”

Business Display Ordinance

 

Cartoon
by Terry O’Neill

Cartoon Terry O'Neill Lake Geneva

Weather in Lake Geneva

City of lake Geneva

Don’t get to comfy with the outdoor seating just yet, a few days of winter weather are expected before spring returns, and it will. Shopping, fun, and beauty can be enjoyed during any kind of weather here in Lake Geneva.

 

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