HOBART | The City Council on Wednesday picked a new leader to chair meetings if Mayor Brian Snedecor is absent.
City Councilman Jerry Herzog, D-1st, was unanimously elected president pro tem after being nominated by City Councilman P. Lino Maggio, D-3rd.
Herzog replaces City Councilman David Vinzant, D-4th, who served as president pro tem for the past two years.
"Congratulations. Good luck," Vinzant said to Herzog.
The council also named Vinzant as Ordinance Committee chairman, a position previously held by Herzog.
Herzog also will serve on the Economic Development Commission, replacing Maggio, who will serve as a representative to the Park Board.
Councilman Matt Claussen, D-at-large, will continue serving as finance chairman, and Councilman Pete Mendez, D-2nd, will continue serving as representative to Hobart's contractor licensing board.
In other business, the council approved on a 6-1 vote a zoning change request allowing for a billboard to be placed at 3198 E. 81st Ave., near Centier Bank.
Vinzant, who cast the dissenting vote, presented a billboard location map indicating the numerous signs that line the U.S. 30 retail area.
"We need to send the message that there are enough billboards already," he said.
Vinzant called the numerous billboards "visual noise."
"We don't want to distract people, plus we want to protect existing businesses," Vinzant said.
City Planner A.J. Bytnar said the billboard requested is in an appropriate place but there's no wiggle room for any more in that area.
"That's the last placement unless the city changed the existing ordinance," Bytnar said.
Brezik, who serves on the Plan Commission, said that board gave a no recommendation vote to the City Council because of uncertainties about the existing number of billboards in the U.S. 30 retail area.
"The Plan Commission made a statement by making a no statement," Brezik said.
Brezik agreed that the zoning request, of which he approved, should be the last one.
The only exception, Brezik said, would be a request for refurbishing or modernization of a billboard.
"We don't want Hobart to become billboard city," Brezik said.