A measure to ban digital signs in downtown McMinnville’s Historic District is currently under consideration.
The city’s Historic Zoning Commission has met to consider changes to its Historic District Guidelines in an effort to prevent any more digital signs from making their way into the Historic District.
“I still believe that any digital signs, flashing signs, internally lit signs, whatever you want to call it, are not in keeping with the character of our historical district,” said HZC member Bobby Kirby. “We’ve done so much and the city has spent so much money to preserve our downtown area. It has worked, because businesses are thriving. I would rather change the wording so that it’s clear and defined that digital signs are simply not allowed.”
Kirby also stated his belief that the city’s intent in establishing the Historic District, the Historic Zoning Commission, and its guidelines was to protect the historic character of the district. He said allowing the placement of digital signs is in direct conflict of that intent.
Current guidelines state signs should respect the size and scale of the building, should not be any larger than necessary, and should not be internally lit or flashy.
Earlier this year, the commissioner approved placement of a digital billboard sign at 357 W. Main Street to be used by Graves Family Pharmacy for advertising purposes. Chad and Emily Graves successfully argued, over several months of back-and-forth discussions with Historic Zoning Commission members, that their sign did meet the guidelines because it is not internally lit or flashy.
Prompted by that disagreement, commission members began discussing changes that would clarify and strengthen the guidelines to prevent digital signs.
“I make a motion that we change the guidelines to read ‘signs shall not be internally lit, flashing, LED or digital,’” said Kirby. “If signs are to be lit, illumination must come from a remote source.”
Members Bobby Kirby, Rachel Kirby, Tom Ward and Raven Young unanimously approved making that change.
Existing nonconforming signs would have grandfather rights. A grandfather clause is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future cases. However, any significant changes to an existing nonconforming sign must be presented to the Historic Zoning Commission for its consideration.
Approval from the McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen is required for the recommended change to take effect.