02/15/04 — City to get tougher on portable signs

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City to get tougher on portable signs

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 15, 2004 2:02 AM

The city is looking for signs.

Literally, that is.

After a zoning ordinance review meeting last week, the city has renewed its intentions to make sure portable signs and other signs don't clutter the rights of way on city streets.

Portable signs are those signs that pop up near the street, generally advertising a business or a service. The city's ordinance prohibits them.

In its review of the city's ordinances, the council decided to keep its rules against certain kinds of signs, but also tightened up restrictions on other kinds.

The new ordinance will prohibit off-premises signs to direct people to businesses and will not allow "open house" signs for real estate companies except on the property for sale.

"I think real estate signs should only be in front of the house, not on corners," said City Councilman Bob Waller.

Councilmen Jimmy Bryan and Chuck Allen agreed.

"If you're not going to let a business have directional signs, then you really can't let real estate have those signs," Allen said.

City Attorney Harrell Everett suggested levying a $25 fine if business owners violated the ordinance.

City Manager Richard Slozak said that it would be tough to enforce because the signs were often put up and taken down over a weekend.

That led to a discussion about enforcing current sign regulations, along with future restrictions.

"I think we should look at penalizing people for leaving a sign out," City Councilman William Goodman said.

Everett said the city would have to give notice.

"Why do we have to give a warning?" Bryan asked.

To let people know about the law and give them time to come into compliance, Everett responded.

Bryan was perplexed, saying that when he exceeded the speed limit, the officer gave him a ticket for not abiding by the law.

"I think we need to tighten it up," Bryan said.

Goodman agreed, saying that it "burned employees out if it wasn't enforceable."

Bryan said the city should make people aware of the ordinance, then ticket.

Allen suggested that those who violated a sign ordinance should first receive an oral warning and be given 48 hours to comply. The second time they would receive a written warning, and the third time they would be fined.

"Why the third time?" Bryan asked. "Why not the second?"

Allen said he thought three times was reasonable and fair, and the council agreed to enact the fine after the third time.

The next zoning ordinance review meeting will be at 11 a.m. Monday at City Hall on Center Street.