By Polly Keary, Editor
The Monroe City Council passed the second and final reading of the amended sign code ordinance Tuesday, along with making some
last minute adjustments to it.
The ordinance has been changed with the goal of making it more simple and easy to understand. Staff has been working on it, consulting with sign code professional Tom Beckworth, for more than a year.
The major revisions included allowing digital signs in many areas of town, but not streaming digital in the downtown or allowing digital signs visible from Lake Tye.
Patsy Cudaback proposed restricting digital signs from the Fryelands Industrial Park altogether, as that region is also the only part of town in which adult entertainment is allowed.
“There could be a sign streaming certain things we don’t want,” she said.
But councilmember Kurt Goering said that he felt such a prohibition would affect too many businesses.
“It would eliminate the entire industrial area, and that would eliminate some of the places up near the highway where screens might make sense,” he said. “I appreciate the concern about adult entertainment.”
The council decided to postpone a decision about that pending further information.
Revisions also included allowing off-premise signs along arterials, and limiting the use of sandwich signs to the downtown and mixed use zones.
The North Kelsey subarea plan sign guidelines were scrapped, but the downtown subarea guidelines were preserved.
At the last minute, Cudaback proposed two more changes to the code. Rather than giving businesses 10 years to bring signs in line with the new codes, she proposed making it five years, and allowing businesses to ask for two two-year extensions if they could show that compliance was a hardship.
And she suggested that signs be limited to 35 feet in height, not 45, throughout most of the town.
The council accepted both revisions.
The ordinance is actually only an interim ordinance, and will expire in six months. At that time the council will evaluate the ordinance and make any changes deemed necessary, then pass it again.
In other business, the council lifted a hiring freeze to allow for the hire of a planning and permitting tech. The hire doesn’t increase the number on staff; rather, the tech will replace an administrator in the Public Works department who is retiring.
“This change will allow the city to consolidate permitting functions in our continuing efforts to streamline process and increase efficiencies for applicants,” read the agenda explanation. “Some of the non-permitting related duties of the current employee were inherited from other departments during the economic downturn and are being returned to the appropriate department.”