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City looks to clarify sign, billboard restrictions
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The McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted on two ordinances which would make changes to city zoning having to do with signs, one regarding on-premise signs in the central commercial district, and the other regarding billboards and off-premise signs in the general commercial districts.
In order for an ordinance to become law, the board has to hold public hearings and the ordinances have to pass two reads. The public hearings were held the same night, with no one appearing to address the ordinances. Both passed first read unanimously.
Planning and Zoning supervisor Josh Baker explained what the ordinances are designed to do.
“Currently we have a policy in place, but we don’t have it in an ordinance, giving us a minimum height that signs should be above our sidewalks in C-1, which is the downtown area,” said Baker. “So this ordinance will give us a 7-foot minimum height requirement for all signs above our sidewalks.”
Baker said there wasn’t really a situation that precipitated the move.
“It’s just something we’ve had for a long time that we thought we need to do something about,” said Baker.
At this point Alderman Jimmy Haley spoke out. Haley is well known for his opposition to the proliferation of signage in the commercial zoning areas around downtown.
“As Josh knows, people have put them up and then said, ‘Oh, did I do something wrong?’” Haley pointed out.
Baker said the lack of a legal regulation on the placement of signs was the main reason for the ordinance, noting Alderman Junior Medley had expressed some concerns about the way signs were being put up.
“We just had a policy,” Baker said. “And I feel like we need something more definite to use. We’ve got some now on Spring Street and the further you go down, the lower they get, and Mr. Medley brought that up in the Planning Commission.”
Baker said the ordinance was not intended to require signs already in place to be changed or removed.
“Those would be allowed to remain,” Baker said. “They would be grandfathered in. But any new businesses we would check that and try to get them to be 7-feet, and if they couldn’t meet that, we would try to work with other options, as far as how to have signage for their business.”
The other McMinnville Municipal Code change has to do with billboards or similar signs.
“We have had a linear distance requirement on the books for a long time regarding billboards,” said Baker. “In C-2 it’s been 1,000 feet linear distance. In C-3 it goes up to 1,500 for the distance between them. But it only applies to linear distance on the same side of the road. So we really haven’t had anything in place to protect us from having billboards at an intersection. You could have multiple billboards at an intersection as long as they’re on opposite sides of the road. Our current ordinance doesn’t do anything to stop it. This ordinance gives us a radius around a billboard so you can’t put another billboard within that radius. Say you’ve got a big 300-square-foot billboard on one side of the road, by the way our code is right now, you could go directly on the other side of the road and put another one. This would protect us from that with a radius.”
Haley asked if other cities do this and Baker said they did, noting the local Planning Commission was in support of this move.
The ordinances have to pass a second read before they become law.