Under review: Sign ordinance to be studied

Under review: Sign ordinance to be studied
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
Just how big should business signs be and where should they be located? And, should the Board of Zoning Appeals be allowed to give variances on a case-by-case basis?
That issue was brought before the Union City Council Tuesday night when it was presented with a request from the Board of Zoning Appeals to consider amending the sign ordinance, allowing its group to waive certain requirements for signs on a case-by-case basis. The same request was made of the Planning Commission.
City manager Kathy Dillon said she is of the belief that it is “dangerous” because it sets a precedent to allow variance cases.
She suggested the city council ask the Planning Commission to study the issue, getting comments from the Board of Zoning Appeals, council members, business owners and leaders and from members of the community. She said a study should be done to see what best serves the community and businesses, keeping the signs within tasteful limits so as not to lose the aesthetics of Union City.
Councilman Judy Robinson, who is a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, said she thinks the rest of the board would be agreeable to a study. She said the problem is, the board has no avenue to help business representatives who come before them because the ordinance does not allow the board the authority to grant variances for signs. A case in particular includes a business which wishes to place a sign on the side of its building facing its parking lot, but the ordinance states the signs must face the street of the business.
Ms. Dillon said variances are not “to meet someone’s desire, but to help those who can’t meet the requirements.”
Mayor Terry Hailey said the city needs to have some control, but he hates for it to be too restrictive. He also suggested that when the study is done, the Planning Commission consider the use of digital billboards and just how animated the city will allow them to be. He said he thinks they can be a distraction for drivers.
Hailey said he also thinks the current sign ordinance does not get enforced, using signs placed at Everett Boulevard and Reelfoot Avenue as an example.
The council agreed to have the Planning Commission study the issue. Published in The Messenger 12.7.11

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