GEL REFERENCE: COD Letter Regarding Position on Glen Ellyn Ordinance

College of DuPage Sign

June 21, 2010

Last week, the Village of Glen Ellyn sent a city inspector to threaten our contractors with citations if they continued to erect new electronic signs replacing older ones damaged by weather and time in the same locations. This was unfortunate, as we need these signs to communicate with the more than 30,000 students on our campus every semester.

On Friday, COD filed suit against the Village to prevent this from happening again on the grounds that our electronic signs are crucial to maintaining safety for our students and that state statute grants the College authority over its own improvements. The court said that we had a compelling argument but did not see an emergency need to immediately restrain the Village without further deliberation.

Within hours of the court decision, we saw a life threatening storm wreak havoc throughout the Chicago area, shattering windows with 80 mile per hour winds and knocking out power. This is precisely the kind of crisis in which our electronic signs are critical for communicating instructions to our students. Instead, the signs remained dark. Fortunately, we had a minimal number of people on campus at that point, and no one was hurt.

Do not believe the Village’s characterization of COD as a rogue entity simply building whatever we want and how we want it. The vast majority of what the Village asks of COD we do, not because we have to but because we want to maintain a spirit of cooperation. We comply with all Village ordinances where we mutually agree that they have jurisdiction: storm water and sewer.

We have complied with all Village building codes by hiring consultants to review construction drawings to make sure it meets or exceeds all Village codes. Over the past three years, we have paid the Village in excess of $375,000 in fees. We are a major employer and business entity that generates millions of dollars in local revenue and employs more than 3,400 people.

This cooperative relationship has not been a two-way street. The Village’s recent strong arm tactics have been retribution for the College exiting from an intergovernmental agreement in 2008. We felt the agreement gave away too much authority over the campus, authority granted to COD by state statute through the Illinois Community College Board. Either side had the right to exit, as spelled out in the agreement. Their actions were also sparked because the College didn’t comply with a Village request to place a sidewalk that we deemed unnecessary on the south side of Fawell Blvd.

Where we disagree is whether the Village can extend its reach to regulate our parking or our signage. The aging electronic signs being replaced are not in the Village’s right of way, and the Village has no jurisdiction over them, per state statute. We are implementing a $2 million comprehensive wayfinding strategy at COD to improve safety, service and convenience to our students. A recent survey taken by the College indicated this was a high priority for the citizens we serve. We are also significantly improving the visual appeal of the area, a great benefit to the Village.

As this disagreement becomes more public, correspondence will show the willingness of the College to cooperate and the unwillingness of the Village to be flexible. Until then, please know your community college strives every day to serve you. We have no intention of stopping our efforts to keep our campus safe and attractive.

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