Wednesday, June 18, 2008
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City puts stop to signs

Too many signs, and billboards too big

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[June 18, 2008]  Do you see what I see? Well, it's signs and billboards that have recently made their way onto the city of Lincoln's radarscope. In particular, a couple of distinctly large billboards on Woodlawn Road to the west end of town are what launched the most recent discussions in the Lincoln City Council chambers. However, the number of signs cropping up on business properties is also a concern.

DonutsIt has become apparent to officials that the time has come to revise city ordinances that regulate both signs and billboards.

Last week ordinance chairman Wanda Lee Rohlfs asked city code enforcement officer Lester Last to assist in a review of the ordinances that are in place and how they might be updated.

In the absence of counsel, aldermen discussed placing a moratorium on future signs and billboard permits until the ordinances could be rewritten. The discussion ended with a plan to hold off only on billboard sign permits. This was to allow any new businesses to still be able to put up a new sign.


However, this week city attorney Bill Bates was on hand during the council meeting. He said he'd spoken with Mr. Last and reviewed the current ordinances. There are two ordinances that affect signs and billboards. The Chapter 7, Title 4 ordinance deals with both signs and billboards. The Chapter 10, Title 8 ordinance is about signs.

He said that to enforce a moratorium on an ordinance it would take an ordinance. He had drafted a moratorium ordinance that would cover both current ordinances.

The moratorium would stop the approval of permits or construction of any new signs or billboards not already in process. It states that there are currently signs and billboards being constructed in Lincoln that the city council believes are not in keeping with the overall character of the neighborhoods in which they are placed or may possibly be creating hazards.

The moratorium is either until new ordinances can be put into place or until Sept. 15.

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Bates confirmed a question left over from last week's discussion; the one application that was already on file for another large billboard would probably have to be approved.

He added that approving the moratorium ordinance would also restrict enforcement of sign and billboard violations until the replacement ordinances are passed.

Alderman Verl Prather supported moving on the moratorium ordinance as proposed, but he also suggested that if the council focused on the issue of the ordinances, it could get done quicker, agreeing with Bates that this might even be before Aug. 15. This would help anyone needing a new sign, as well as allow enforcement to resume sooner.

Rohlfs added that while they are working on this, she would like to review what the ordinances say about signs placed between the sidewalk and the street. Many of these are temporary signs, and they are being placed on city property.


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