Shady Cove council discusses sign issues

Many epic feuds throughout history have begun over minor issues; for example it is said Hatfields vs. McCoys began with bickering over a pig. Similarly, the current dust up between E.M. Design vs. the City of Shady Cove began over a deer. Specifically over a sign about speed and deer mortality within city limits and E.M. Design’s accusation that neither the city nor ODOT cared about the issue. However, safety was the stated reason the sign was eventually removed. Though it met sign ordinance requirements in general, at the city’s request ODOT reviewed

the sign and found it a safety hazard due to the amount of verbiage and the time it would take drivers to read. The city did have ODOT conduct a speed survey in the contested zone to see if lowering the limit was a possibility. However, the study wasn’t discussed in any public meetings; thus sparking Round 2 of the dust up. Heather Johnson of E.M. Design felt the City had broken Oregon State Law by not giving the public voice on the speed study results (which were to keep all current limits). ODOT then returned to the city during the April 5 meeting to discuss several ways drivers could be encouraged to slow down and it seemed détente was on the horizon. However once a feud has begun, it can be a hard thing to end. Round 3 found Ray Johnson of E.M. Design filing a complaint with the city about political signs in folks yards. During the April 19 meeting Johnson advised that as he was required to apply for a permit for his sign the letter of the law should be applied to all citizens equally. He also felt the permit for his new proposed changeable letter sign had “unfair” conditions, but as he currently has no evidence of what conditions have been placed on similar signs that issue remains unresolved.

 

Per the City’s current sign ordinance, “All new signs shall be required to make application and pay a permit fee…”, so after much thought and consultation with his superiors Community Service Officer Barry Moore fulfilled his duty to the letter of the law and advised folks they needed permits, gave them the necessary information and subsequently removed the signs from the property of those who did not get permits (which would be everyone). During discussion council stated they felt the ordinance was “Nebulous” and even “Murky” – though “All” seems pretty clear, so it’s not surprising re-writing the sign ordinance is currently the top order of business for the Planning Commission as no consideration was given to temporary signs at all in the 1994 version. With all this in mind and with a resolution putting a stay on the 5 sq. ft. limit for event signs until the new sign ordinance is completed having passed in June; council consulted counsel and felt it would be best to pen a similar resolution for temporary signs in hopes of “Making things right.” for everyone.

The resolution was passed during the evening meeting and for the time being no permit is required on temporary signs such as; real estate signs, garage sale signs and political signs. However, all such signs must be professionally made (or at least purchased from Walmart and not hand painted). Moore carefully stored all confiscated signs and kept records of their owners and will be returning them ASAP.

In and among all things signage council also managed to save the city $8000.00 a year by re-negotiating how mileage will be charged for vehicles under the 2012/2013 fiscal Sheriff’s Contract. The Rogue Valley Sewer contract however will likely go up a bit for that same fiscal period, as RVSS found more problems with sewers and the treatment plant than they had anticipated when the 5 year contract was originally signed. The revised contract will be further discussed in May.

Lastly, the one topic that always brings everyone together and makes everyone smile and feel pride in the city: Student of the Month awards were given to Jared Wolf and Ashton Sides. Feuds will happen, politics are controversial by nature; but with kids like Wolf and Sides as our collective future all sides can agree that future is full of promise.

By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent

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