Proposed sign ordinance gets the green light
Published 9:35 am Friday, January 8, 2016
After two workshops, hours of debate and hearing citizens’ concerns, the Elizabethton Planning Commission voted to approve the proposed sign regulation changes Thursday.
“All in all, there really were not many changes except substantial changes to regulation of temporary signs and reclassified real estate signs. Those were big issues for citizens,” said Director of Planning and Development Jon Hartman.
He outlined the most prominent changes:
• Types of temporary signs will be allowed with an appropriate permit for 90 consecutive days and then down for 30 days. The ordinance says people can rotate between sign types (banner, inflatable, snipe, wall sign) for each 90 day period to maintain signage.
• A regulation was added for temporary signs stating that they shall not be constructed or intended for long term use.
• Off-premise signs will now be permitted, though they are not in the current ordinance.
• The definition of real estate signs was changed to include auction signs and off-premise real estate signs including directional temporary signs.
• The appeals section was clarified which adds an appeals filing period and details the procedure to appeal.
• The regulations for the site distance triangle will require that signs be under 18 inches or over eight feet tall.
A proposed ordinance was considered and debated at a workshop with City Council members and citizens. This was followed by a second workshop at which the Planning Commission consolidated concerns and attempted to make a functional ordinance for all parties involved.
After approval by the Commission, the ordinance will now go before the City Council for two readings. The potential outcomes of this incited some discussion regarding what would happen if it were rejected and who would be responsible for making changes.
“I don’t think everyone agrees with everything in this, but the amount of consensus is very significant,” said Commissioner Melanie Sellers.
Chairman Paul Bellamy and Commissioner Vicky Manuel commented on the amount of time and collaboration that went into the proposed changes.
Sellers said they can leave it as is, which she called “unworkable,” but continued saying, “I think they have a responsibility to do something.”
“Right now, we’re basically in limbo,” Sellers said referring to the current state of enforcement.
Hartman explained that City Manager Jerome Kitchens issued a moratorium on enforcement of regulations regarding temporary signs.
“That’s not a long term solution,” said Sellers. “We’ve worked at it, and I think everyone has done their best, so it’s really their choice.”