Skip to main content

Constitutionality of Village Sign Ordinance Upheld In Court

On December 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered an order affirming the constitutionality of the Village of Downers Grove's Sign Ordinance (See Chapter 28 - Zoning Ordinance). The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Leibundguth Storage and Van Service, Inc. in December 2014, challenging the legality of the ordinance. 

In 2005, the Village amended the sign ordinance to promote the reasonable and effective display of signs within the community and specifically prohibited painted wall signs. Property owners were given 10 years to comply with the new regulations. Leibundguth, rather than bring its painted wall signs into compliance during the 10-year compliance period, filed a lawsuit against the Village alleging that the sign ordinance was unconstitutional.

The Court found that the Village took deliberative steps in amending its sign ordinance and that it (Village), "... did not blindly invoke its aesthetics concerns, but rather it carefully documented and considered the current appearance of signs around the community and the impact different signs, including painted wall signs, have on the town's general appearance."

The Court also concluded that the overall structure of the sign ordinance is reasonable and constituted valid content-neutral time, place, or manner restrictions.

"This has never been about winning a fight - it's been about ensuring compliance with reasonable rules that others have followed," said Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully. "The sign ordinance was designed to improve the aesthetics of the Village and enhance public safety. It was unfortunate that one local business chose to challenge the legality of the sign ordinance rather than comply, but we were confident of the constitutionality of the ordinance and that its validity would be sustained by the Court."

During the legal proceedings, the Village voluntarily opted to not ticket or fine Leibundguth for the sign ordinance violations. On February 5, 2016, the Village was notified that Leibundguth corrected the violations, making it the last business to take steps to come into compliance with the sign ordinance. The Village has also been notified that Leibundguth intends to file an appeal of the Court's decision.