Chair Erin Elder began the workshop by advising folks that the commission is looking at various model ordinances as they look to revise their ordinance. The commission wants input from business owners as to what will and won’t work for the city. Elder also discussed reports the city had which showed the percentage of signs that are currently out of compliance with the existing ordinance. Many present expressed concern over those reports and wondered what their purpose was; would they have to comply? It was clarified the reports are of an ‘FYI’ nature, the commission wanted to know if the current ordinance was being enforced (it isn’t; or hasn’t been.) The commission wanted to know what the most common ordinance deviations so they can focus on those areas.
Any ordinance will have to adhere to ODOT sign regulations. The city’s policies can’t be more liberal than ODOT’s. The most common issue is that of signage in ODOT right of way. Applications; these must be filled out for new signage. They are available at City Hall and they are given to new business owners when they apply for their business license. The revised ordinance will allow for application for a variance and there will be an appeal process for denied applications.
Some asked if existing signs need to be replaced to meet new ordinance requirements. No, as with other ordinances current signs will be “grandfathered” in. New signs and those with major changes or replaced signs will need to comply with the new ordinance. The sign application cost is $25.
Joe Riker felt for an ordinance to succeed it needed clear definitions and clear examples graphics, photos etc.. Many felt the current ordinance is unclear and “unfriendly” leading to a sense that the city is “unfriendly” to businesses in general. Both attendees and the commission hope a new ordinance along with more Town Hall type meetings will go a long way to change this perception. The idea of having a focus group to help decide what types of signs would be likely to draw customers to businesses was also brought up. Tami Merteen will follow up on this idea. Lastly, it was universally agreed that no one wants any type of theme for signage, be it design, color, etc.
The nearly 90 minute discussion ended with Elder advising participants that this is the commission’s current priority and it will continue to be discussed at future meetings. Elder noted that public comment is always welcome and encouraged future attendance and input.
City planner Lois DeBenedetti gave a brief overview of her annual report. She said there have been seven applications to build new single family dwellings in the city over the past year. She advised this is an impressive number. The key point of information from her monthly report is that folks need to check with City Hall when they are planning on doing any type of building; even something as ‘simple’ as a car port may require a zoning permit even though it would not require a building permit.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent