City puts stop
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.
It 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
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.
[to top of second column]
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.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]