The sign ordinance was attempted first but was too cumbersome. With
little headway and a September deadline looming, the committee
switched to working on the billboards, as that work could be done
quicker, and it would give them some footing to better understand
what would need to be done for the signs ordinance.
The billboards ordinance was passed a few weeks ago. (See the
Since that time Prather accepted the weighty chore of leading the
work on the sign ordinance. He took a few weeks to examine the
ordinance and make notes on what would need to be addressed.
Last week he charged aldermen to do the same and to come to a
meeting this week with questions written on the side. With some
trepidation he said, "What I've done is gone through and pulled out
what I think is important, but I'm also keeping one (draft) on the
side for 'second best,' ... (pause) but to minimize discussion and
conflict, I'm keeping that one to myself."
The primary concerns when evaluating the sign regulations are
safety, impact on aesthetics and property values.
It was identified earlier this year that there are too many signs
cluttering the community, and some properties in particular.
One of the proposed changes that would have big impact on this
issue addresses off-site advertising. What constitutes off-site
advertising is that a business has signs advertising another
business not located on that property.
No off-site or off-premises signs would be allowed to continue
under the new ordinance.
This would help reduce the number of signs on some properties and
give the community a more appealing appearance.
Property owners would be given until Feb. 9, 2009, to remove
off-site advertising signs. Prather suggested that this deadline
would likely provide two months after the ordinance is passed to
tear down off-site advertising signs.
One prominent need for an addition was found. Prather said that
there would need to be a section added for the Lincoln Historic
District. Current signs in that area have been approved individually
by motion during council sessions, but as city attorney Bill Bates
pointed out, there is no ordinance for that yet.
The Lincoln Historic District was defined for the National
Historic Registry in 1985. The committee decided that the
information and parameters drawn from that resource would be used
for the definition of the new section.
Prather was interested to hear from merchants or other downtown
organizations if they would have any input on the signs in the
To aid in the development of that section, the committee would
also be looking at other communities' ordinances on historic
In the overview
Prather walked aldermen through the regulations as aldermen
viewed his documentation of proposed changes. Under purpose and
definitions: In the purpose section, constitutional objectives need
to be met. In definitions, "billboards" would be removed.
"Advertising" would need a new definition.
Additionally, Prather pointed out the definitions for the zoning
districts, permitting, exemptions and nonconforming signs.
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Signs on residential property
Regulations for signs placed on residential property include
maintenance and repair, and the signs need to comply with safety
Real estate signs
Prather asked for input on real estate sign sizes.
Signs posted on city property
No sign shall be attached to trees, utility poles, public fences,
parkways, public property or rights of way except as authorized by
Signs that might fall under exemptions
Exemptions would include reasons you wouldn't need to get a
Holiday lighting exemptions would remain the same, which is now
Nov. 1-Jan. 15.
There would be allowances for signs that are already up but do
not conform to the new ordinance at the time of adoption.
All signs would need to be registered with the building safety
official and would be subject to review.
Moving current signs would require a new permit.
If a sign was found to be unsafe, the zoning officer would send a
notice to the owner, allowing 10 days to fix it or remove it.
In some instances, if a sign were found to be a hazard, the
zoning officer could order its immediate removal.
Marty Neitzel asked Prather if he could identify any such signs
in the city right now.
He responded, "I'll tell you, once you start going around telling
some owners that theirs isn't quite right, you're going to find out
about a whole lot of others that aren't right, 'cause they'll tell
Prather asked that before their next meeting committeemen would
look at the sections on the districts -- residential, commercial,
industrial and adding a historical district -- as well as prohibited
signs, enforcement and information that is asked for in the sign
Visitors present during Monday night's meetings included
Leadership Academy participants; Nathan Turner, observing; Frank
Shepke, St. Clara's administrator; and resident Cliff Marble.