Sign discussion draws little interest

Published 9:16 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

Despite the controversy surrounding proposed changes, few people attended a downtown business meeting intended to discuss the changes to the city’s sign and banner ordinances.

In April, the Planning Commission chose to delay a vote on the new regulations for 60 days to allow more time for the public to see and discuss the changes. But only 11 people, including media and city employees, showed up at the Downtown Business Association meeting on Wednesday, which had the discussion as its main agenda item.

“They’re only concerned with it when it happens to them,” said DBA president Andy Damiani, explaining the lack of participation.

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The changes would relax restrictions on corporate flags, decorative flags, special-events signage and signs advertising homes for sale in residential subdivisions.

Currently, business owners hoping to advertise a special event must pay a $100 fee for a permit to display the signs for up to 21 days. They can only receive three such permits per year.

The proposed changes include expanding the allowed permits to five per year and making them valid for 30 days each, Planning Director Scott Mills said during Wednesday’s meeting. The fee for the permit also has been reduced to $25 effective July 1 as part of the budget approved by City Council.

“We think the $25 is appropriate,” Mills said, noting there is an administrative cost associated with the permits. “We’re hoping (the reduced fee) won’t be a deterrent.”

In addition, special-events signs would be allowed without a permit for three days before and three days after a recognized state holiday, for a total of seven days.

Councilman Mike Duman, who was at the meeting and owns an auto dealership, said he still is looking for more leeway for businesses to advertise specific products or sales. He suggested permitting banners to promote specific items or events.

“Having more things allowed by right, it would allow, in my opinion, more time to enforce violations,” Duman said.

Other proposed changes include specifically allowing corporate flags and decorative flags, which are not addressed in the current ordinance.

In addition, special-event signs that are not visible from the public right-of-way, but instead are directed toward pedestrians or vehicles that are already on site, would not be regulated under the proposed ordinance.

The final change involves residential subdivisions under construction. The proposal would allow developers to place a sign at each subdivision entrance, use a maximum of two wind-driven flags with no advertising copy at the main entrance and place signs in front of the sales office and model homes.

The Planning Commission will take up the issue at its June 19 meeting.