Rockford Committee Approves Ordinance Change For Mercyhealth Signs

Hospital administrators argue larger signs are needed for Riverside campus

ROCKFORD - It is hard to miss Mercyhealth's new level one trauma center on East Riverside. The property is under construction, but is set to open a year from Friday.

"If you look at the hospital property just alone, where it's going to sit on the property, it's 28 football fields," said Mercyhealth's Vice President of Government Relations, Jennifer Hall. The size of the new campus, is the reason the hospital argues it needs bigger signage than what the city of Rockford allows.

"Most municipal codes and regulations wouldn't fit into what a unique property like this requires," Hall added. Mercyhealth wants to post a near 40 foot sign overlooking I-90, but city law currently only allows signs to be up to eight feet tall. Still, the city's Code and Regulations committee will recommend the full city council approve the request. Hall says the tall sign is about more than advertising, but for people who may not be from the area.

"You gotta consider that people may be coming under duress, very high stress situations," she said. "They may be driving a family member who is potentially having a heart attack, their driving down I-90 among many semi's going 70 miles an hour or faster potentially," she added.

However, Alderman Venita Hervey is worried about sign pollution. "There's going to be development around that complex in the future, so now we're going to have everybody ask for big signs so they don't get swallowed up by the size of Mercyhealth signs," Hervey said.

Hervey says she is willing to work with the hospital, allowing it to exceed the eight foot limit. However, she thinks 37 feet is just too much."That's a major deviation, yes it's a large building so you might need some exception to the size but this is beyond even the exception," she added.

The Code and Regulations committee approved a number of sign ordinance variations for the hospital Monday night. The full city council is set to make a vote for final approval in two weeks.


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