Bristol sends address sign objectors to existing appeal process

An example of the address signs in Bristol.

The Bristol Village Board — faced with complaints from two subdivisions — opted to keep in place an appeal process for residents who object to the placement of emergency address signs in the village.

The village has installed the signs on each property within the village with an address to help emergency responders quickly identify addresses. The signs are green, reflective for night viewing and mounted on a metal post in a set place in a yard.

The village this summer has installed about 2,500 of the signs and has about 50 more to install yet, said village administrator Randy Kerkman. The installation was done by an outside company, not village employees.

At Monday’s regular board meeting, representatives of two subdivisions spoke, asking for exceptions to the placement of the signs.

Connie Soper, representing the Bristol Ridge subdivision (130th Avenue and Highway 50) said some of her fellow residents had various complaints about the signs including a lack of notice from the village that they were being installed, location of where the signs were put, when the signs were installed and that placement in some cases prevented children from playing in the front yard.

Tom Strenger, representing the Oak Ridge subdivision (190th Avenue and 83rd Street), objected largely to the aesthetics of the signs, saying the metal post did not conform with covenants in place in the subdivision. He asked that residents in his subdivision be allowed to mount the signs on lamp posts that are at every property.

For their part, village officials listened to the complaints and showed empathy, but in the end they supported the need for the signs and how they were placed.

“The whole point of this is uniformity,” said village President Mike Farrell “so out first responders would know where a sign would be. If we allow wholesale movement of the signs we have defeated the purpose. I don’t want this getting out of control.”

Trustee Ruth Atwood related a personal story about how fast response from the fire department helped save a fire from destroying her home.

“I understand all the cosmetics about a sign on a post, but let’s look at the real issue here,” Atwood said. “If they can’t find those numbers (in an emergency) you’re not going to be happy. Think carefully; you don’t want to lose your house.”

Perhaps one of the strongest endorsements for the signs came from Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Chase Forster, who was in the audience. In his law enforcement career, he has responded to all kinds of emergency situations, Forster said.

“These signs make a world of difference … to find that house,” Forster said. “I can’t even put into words how much better it is. These signs really do put a first responder in a better place in a crucial time … when your life is at stake and you want them to find your house.”

Two residents in the audience also spoke in support of the signs.

“These signs are serving a purpose,” said Marvin Farm. “They should stick to consistency as much as possible.

Bristol Fire and Rescue Chief John Niederer said the signs have already paid off in locating previously difficult to locate addresses in crucial situations.

“We absolutely are seeing an improvement in service,” Niederer said.

Kerkman said residents are able to appeal the placement of the signs through a process that goes through the village building inspector.

While the board had a petition from Bristol Ridge objecting to the signs, the board instead voted unanimously to keep the current appeal process for the signs in place and suggested those with objections make use of that process.

Kerkman said of about 2,500 sign installations, 12 variances have been granted.

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