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Mayor: Carson’s Should Have Known Better

Restaurant chain went through the process six years ago and understood the regulations.

Carson’s Restaurant should have had an inkling the sign it installed over the summer to replace a damaged one would cause a problem with Deerfield officials.

The Village Board of Trustees made that clear Monday when it unanimously denied Carson’s appeal for an exception to the language requirements of the ordinance becauae the restaurant chain ignored the rules and had a short memory.

Earlier: Village Board Rebukes Carson’s Sign Violation

“When you were before the Appearance Review Commission in 2006 your sign had a lot of verbiage,” Mayor Harriet Rosenthal said to Carson’s representative Ron Rosenbloom. “The Appearance Review Commission said so and we did too.”

At that time the sign was modified to meet regulatory requirements saying only the date the business was established in addition to its name. The new sign has the name in the center with “prime steaks” on top and “famous barbeque” beneath.

The problem with the new sign is its mention of a specific food type, “prime steak,” according to Village Manager Kent Street.

This time, rather than seek approval of the Appearance Review Commission, Carson’s installed it on its own. That too was part of the problem.

“Had you gone through the process and had a dialogue with us in good faith I might be inclined to make an exception,” Trustee Mary Oppenheim said. “We feel you’re not playing by the rules.”

After the Village discovered the violation, it sent Carson’s a letter July 11 informing the company of the infraction. A second letter followed August 14 and on Sept. 24 the Appearance Review Commission acted retroactively denying the request. The appeal followed.

Rosenbloom argued the new sign was near compliant. He also talked about the language being nothing more than a description of the company’s products.

“It’s an identification mark, an extension of the name,” Rosenbloom said. “It’s a nice sign, placed property and it complies with all of the requirements except one. It does not affect the health or welfare of Deerfield.”

Rosenthal was not persuaded. “Just because it’s done does not move us to ignore the regulation,” she said. “We like to keep our signs simple.”

Trustee Alan Farkas used some of the strongest language to express his unhappiness at Carson’s disregard for the sign ordinance. “When you treat us like this it’s a slap in the face of the ARC (Appearance Review Commission),” he said.

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Joshua November 08, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I'm not to crazy about Carson's anyway, there over priced & the food is only so so!
DHS Parent November 08, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I'm a little confused Deerfield Trustees - If a sign cannot descibe what the business does, 1) why would someone (who didn't know) stop and do business with them? and 2) why do you allow: Whole FOODS, Deerfield TIRE, Deerfields BAKERY, First Midwest BANK, ITALIAN Kitchen, etc., etc. - I think you should be concentraing on GETTING businesses instead of pissing them off. Fine them (for not following the rules), then relax the rules (to make logical sense) and then move on to important issues that matter to people.
NB November 08, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Well, there is an election for mayor and three of the incumbent trustees coming up....
DHS Parent November 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Not really the issue, is it?
Patchme November 08, 2012 at 04:12 PM
As a restaurant my experience with Carson's was high price and mediocre quality. If they served higher quality meals at an attractive price. They wouldn't need a sign. People would be beating a path to their door. Ignoring the rules about signage is like ignoring the fact that some of us pay attention when we dine out.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
UN-F-ING-BELIEVEABLE, MAYOR!!!!!!! THIS ... THIS issue is what you're going to flex your muscle on?!?! For what purpose?!?!?! I hope the board's ego wasn't bruised as some of these quotes seem to indicate because nobody cares. If you're so wrongly disgusted by ownership, fine them and move along. But don't publicly wag your finger at them like some petty, out-of-touch school teacher. DeerfieldResident is right. You should be embarrassed. I'm very concerned about the board"s ability to operate on a higher level than the average condo association. You have so many other FARRRRRRR more important challenges that you seem to have no clue how to solve.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 08, 2012 at 05:06 PM
And to t he owners of Carsons ... When you do get fined, Ithink it's time for a Help-Us-Pay-the-Fine tent party. Ribs, beer and whatever. 75% goes to the fine, 25% goes to a local charity. How 'bout it? Deerfield needs a party!!
barry November 08, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Doesn't exactly speak to to others considering our town to set up shop that its going to get cooperation from village officials. On the other hand I know others have tried for an excemtion and have been declined. So in the very least it shows fair play to all. But at what cost to the village?
Informed Citizen November 08, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I highly doubt any of you would take these positions if you would take the time to read the materials posted on the Village Website and/or actually watch the PUBLIC hearing. The board and ARC frequently grants variances, but Carson's purposely evaded the procedure it knows is in place (because it didn't like the result it got a few years ago). The Board did the right thing by sticking up for the volunteers that serve on the ARC and the other businesses that actually follow the rules. If you really think the Mayor or the Board is not accomodating to business or doing everything they can to get new business to occupy our vacant spaces then you really aren't informed.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM
You don't get it, Informed. Three-fourths of the problem is NOT that the board decided to take action. It's that the board decided to make a public spectacle of it. If you want to show them who's boss, fine them (or whatever is proper) and move along. Everybody has taken their position. Now act accordingly instead of the ego-driven, finger-pointing we're seeing that is an ABSOLUTE waste of everbody's time and tax dollars.
Harry Steindler November 08, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I'm imagining next to no one would have noticed that the sign changed but for all of this hullabaloo. I appreciate the work of the ARC and the board, but I cannot possibly find anything off putting, unprofessional, or "un-Deerfield" about that sign. Someone above mentioned some sort of fine (shouldn't be too onerous) for going around the rules - that would seem appropriate. Full disclosure - I think Carson's food and service are great!
DFLDS November 08, 2012 at 07:53 PM
So Stupid!! They should worry why half the town has FOR LEASE signs all over. SAD!!
Walter White November 08, 2012 at 08:08 PM
The Mayor was outraged regarding the Carson's sign and Seidel was outraged at the Rosebud sign. Where is the outrage for the failing businesses and vacant storefronts? How about some sense of urgency in getting this village back on track? This board is totally useless. We need some members who know how to attract good businesses to this town.
NB November 08, 2012 at 08:36 PM
It's been an issue in this town. There's a lot of commissions to go through: Plan, Appearance Review. If you're going downtown there's the VCDC. I'm fine with them trying to go for uniformity in their signage, but there's a reason Carson's just went ahead with this sign. I'd like to know what it is. Did the Village try and reach out and find that out? I'll say it again. There's an election coming up in 2013.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 08, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Here's one person who hears ya. This relatively new resident thanks you for putting a date out there. Hope we have some good choices.
A concerned DHS Parent November 08, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I agree with Briarwood. Did any resident complain about the sign or was it the trustees/mayor. I personally have driven past the sign and didn't give it a second thought. Yes, they went about it the wrong way so have them pay the original fees and pay a fine. But if Deerfield makes them take it down that is not sending the right message to businesses. Carsons has been in Deerfield forever and asking them to take it down doesn't send the right message to other businesses looking to locate to Deerfield. They are upset about two words 'prime steaks'. Pay a fine and move on. I think if the mayor and trustees push this issue they are really focusing on issues that bother them and not their constitutes.
Informed Citizen November 08, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Carson's came before the Board with a request for a variance. In 2006, ARC rejected a nearly identical sign. So, this time, Carson's decided not to go to ARC and to just do what it wanted. The Board didn't reject the sign so much as it rejected Carson's process. There are plenty of prior instances where the Board has remarked that some of the sign standards are too harsh and it has freely given variances in the past. Its real convenient to blame the Board, but if they carry the burden of promoting respect for the law and procedures, its unrealistic to expect them to give Carson's a pass on their flagrant actions.
Pete Johnson November 08, 2012 at 10:50 PM
so much interest over a sign while suicides and death investigations go under the rug here
RB November 08, 2012 at 11:03 PM
This board spent over $700,000 of local taxpayer dollars (and over $2 million federal dollars) on that stupid train underpass on Deerfield road. This is the board that hammered Malk to the point that he had to add parking spaces to the shopping center resulting in narrow aisles and multiple fender benders every week. This board allowed the cell tower that looks horrible when they could have made it shorter and hidden to some degree. This board allows that 'park' to become over grown at the bank by at Deefield and Waukegan roads while allowing a chainsaw massacre Halloween display across the street. This board needs to wake up and support business and stop spending money chasing Mayberry. Although Floyd probably could advertise that he gave haircuts at his barbershop. We are becoming known for high taxes, picky boards and profiling enforcement.
Bear1 November 09, 2012 at 01:33 AM
The contentiousness of this issue and the discussion that has followed, Exemplifies just what's wrong with our governments and the way we interact with them. Without strict controls, the appearance of our nice little villages would be destroyed by high-intensity LED flashing signs. Just look at the one on the extension near the Waukegan Road exit if you need evidence. The problem isn't The regulation or the infraction, it's the hard-nosed refusal to compromise. It's not hard to figure out what happened, they were refused a reasonable request in the first place, and when the sign was storm damaged and had to be replaced anyway six years later, probably desiring a little kick to business in this economy, it only made sense to make the sign the way they wanted it in the first place, and ask for forgiveness - if necessary. I don't disagree that it's a little insulting to the arc, but I do think the refusal was very antibusiness in the first place. I've had the experience where it cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars because an arc in Hoffman Estates held up construction because we didn't have daffodils in our plan. Apparently our landscape architect didn't know that was the city flower and was required. But we were held up for six months and until I went crazy at an arc meeting and demanded that they tell me what I had to do to build the building, was I finally told that we needed daffodils. We gave them a field of daffodils who cares what bordered the parkway?
Bear1 November 09, 2012 at 01:59 AM
The point being, arcs can either protect and beautify a city - or contribute to its demise. The trick is communication and reasonable compromise. It's the same for any governmental unit. Just like for Health care, education, etc.. We need to go back to the principal of following the spirit of our laws, rather than letting the lawyers take a huge share OF EVERYTHING to split hairs, create fights and inequities out of loopholes and deceptive hidden riders on our legislation. It's difficult to understand the ridiculous decisions that people get hung up on, but it's clear that it's out of control. Clearly this dark green or black & white sign meets the spirit of the law -btw, I lived in Deer Run for 10 years, and not once gave that sign a second thought - mayor - fine them and then go out and talk some big tax payer into moving here, without giving away the farm!- the people have spoken.
Charlie November 09, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Did anyone ever notice the hand-wriiten sidewalk sign which U.S. Bank was permitted to display in a stancheon on the sidewalk along Deerfield Road for nearly a year?
Charlie November 09, 2012 at 03:48 AM
An ugly 2' x 3' hand written sign. Advertising loan rates. Moved from the main entrance lobby onto the side walk. Daily. For nearly one year. Was US Bank fined?
Happy Camper November 09, 2012 at 04:45 AM
So, I'm not the only one that woke up and realized the incredible wasted time on this issue. Amazing that Cadwell Corner sits empty, Deerbrook Mall still has a sign inside from when General Cinemas was there, albeit no one would know because Madame Mayor would never walk in there, nor would the geniuses debating this sign. Rumor has it that Portillos was set to take over Office Depot, but may have had a change of heart after dealing with our civic leaders. Glad we spent all that money on a longterm plan so these egomaniacal short sided "leaders" can help rebuild Deerfield. Looks like we should go to a new strategy of "hope." As in I hope these leaders get serious about something more important than a steak sign and find new ways to attract not chase out every business with a chance of succeeding.
Harry Steindler November 09, 2012 at 05:09 AM
To be fair I decided to watch the board discussion and vote on this issue on line. Now that I have seen the deliberation related to the offending sign - I feel no different. Carson's is a good, positive part of our community. The sign should meet any reasonable ordinance (if it doesn't meet our VIllage's, the ordinance should be changed). Expressing displeasure with how they handled the situation would have been somewhat understandable - spitefully telling Carson's they have to remove the sign (I imagine that's the result of the unanimous no vote) is wasteful and much more damaging to our community than the sign could ever be.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 09, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Think about your argument. If the Board truly believes the sign standards are too harsh, that makes their actions even more silly. Stop running in circles with these bureaucratic details. Check the ego at the door, offer them a take-it-or-leave-it fine and get to work on something that matters.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 09, 2012 at 05:40 AM
My favorite line of the meeting from Mr.Farkas, "You are asking us to approve a slap in the face to the ARC ... and deciding to evade the procedures that we have in place for a commission that puts in hard work, that does what is required of them." Said another trustee, "We don't feel you played fair with us." Now, tell me this isn't an ego-driven, p******g match. They weren't anywhere this knowledgeable/prepared about the topic when the mall developer was trying to rake the village over the coals. And it tells me all I need to know about the independence of this group that the five other trustees didn't say a peep about a topic that holds so little political value. Kids, nobody cares!!!!!! Fine them and move along.
DeerfieldResident November 09, 2012 at 04:37 PM
In my dreams we have a Portillo's in town. I drive to Vernon Hills all the time now and it's always busy. What a concept...a busy restaurant. Portillo's would draw people from all the surrounding areas too.
Harry Steindler November 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Signs I noticed driving around town this morning: Trax "Tavern and Grill", McDonald's "Drive through", a bank with "24 Hour ATM". Deerfield Tire Company with a secondary sign advertising "Bridgestone", Panera "Bread" - Seems consistent with "Carson's Prime Steaks / Famous Barbecue". I somewhat get that the board was unhappy with Carson's procedures - but, please, be smart, take this up again at the next meeting and approve their request - it would be best for the community.
Bringin' Down Briarwood November 09, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Gone but not forgotten: Borders ... Books and Music. http://o2.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/PATCH/resize/600x450/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/patch/985870418ef556cffced573aee51920b If you're going to waste my time and tax dollars, at least be consistent about it.

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