Coming soon to south Harlem Avenue: a giant mouthful of “whimsical” mechanical teeth, 6 feet high, towering 22 feet above the ground, visible from three sides and advertising the offices of pediatric dentist Jerry Udelson, 1129 S. Harlem Ave.

The Forest Park Village Council approved a variance for the 200-pound giant chompers at Monday’s meeting. The Forest Park Zoning Board of Appeals passed a zoning variance for the sign, which is 9 feet higher than allowed by code and extends out from the face of the building by 1.5 feet.

The variance passed the Zoning Board in a split vote 4-2. Zoning board members Ray Paulin and Richard Scafidi voted against the sign at the April 15 meeting.

The sign resembles a wind-up toy jutting out from the building with an open mouthful of teeth, each tooth 13 inches tall. The sign will wrap around three sides of a decorative brick wall above the office’s entrance. The total size of the teeth is 7 feet wide and 6 feet high.

Udelson is getting his toothy sign just in time. Forest Park has been working for almost two years on a sign code, which consultant Jo Ellen Charlton presented to the village council in March. Charlton and the Zoning Board of Appeals are reshaping the sign code. Udelson is known in Forest Park as a supporter of charitable and civic organizations. He gave two $500 donations to Mayor Anthony Calderone’s campaign fund in 2010 and 2011.

Under the new code, which was to be presented to the council within a month, the giant teeth would be considered a “nonconforming sign,” which would not be allowed. Charlton used the boot-shaped Frank’s Shoe Repair sign on Roosevelt Road, as an example of a sign that would be forbidden by the new code although the code grandfathers for signs already in existence.

Charlton, who works as a consultant to the village, is the staff member who recommends action taken by the ZBA. She did not return phones calls or email.

Surrounding property owners were notified of the variance hearing, said Village Administrator Tim Gillian in an email. “Notices are posted in the newspapers to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on requested changes at the zoning meeting.”

The council passed the ordinance unanimously, allowing the variance without comment Monday night.

The sign is almost as tall the Magikist neon lips that illuminated the night sky over the Eisenhower Expressway at Cicero Avenue until 2004.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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