Danedri Thompson
The signs in Gardner aren’t blocking up the scenery, but business signs may become more uniform in the next several years. City officials hope to adopt new sign regulations in the near future after months of discussion and work with a consultant.
Members of a sign committee, which include city planners, consultants and business owners, have met three times since March hammering out details of proposed sign regulations. Planning Commissioners got a peek at a rough draft of the codes during a meeting in April. They continued a sign code public hearing that will continue at a May 22 meeting.
The proposal attempts to address every possible kind of signage within the community.
For example, Ryan McKay, a consultant who has been working with the committee on the sign code update, said the proposal includes things like window graphics or wrappings, sidewalk signs and even signs on vehicles parked in front of a business long term.
“What do you do with vehicles that are sitting out on the premises?” he told the planning commission in April. “We have looked at every option for signage.”
The purpose of the sign code is to provide “minimum standards intended to promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare and to safeguard property and property values by regulating and controlling the quality of materials, construction, installation and maintenance in addition to the number, size, sign type and illumination pertaining to signs,” an introduction to the proposed code currently reads.
Kynard said city officials have wanted to update the sign code since 2002, but just recently began the process to write and adopt changes.
“When someone submits a sign application, it’s difficult, based on our current recommendations, for staff to administer it,” Kynard said.
As currently written, the sign code would require all businesses to come into compliance with the new standards within the next five years.
However, Amy Kynard, city planner, said a sign code committee continues to hash out changes to the proposed amendment.
“Five years – that is what’s currently in there,” she said. “But the sign code committee didn’t feel that five years was long enough. There was some disagreement over how long was the right amount, so we’re kind of looking over that to determine what would be the appropriate time frame.”
McKay told the planning commission that there appear to be a large number of signs in town that will be non-conforming if the draft as written is adopted.
“A great majority would be non-conforming,” he told planning commissioners in April.
Kynard said it would be difficult to pinpoint an exact number without evaluating each individual sign.
“I’m not sure which ones are non-conforming today,” Kynard said in an interview. “My personal feeling is that with the new code, there are some things that are getting more restrictive and some things that are getting less restrictive. I think there are going to be a lot more signs that are conforming than there are non-conforming.”
There is still time for community members to weigh in on the proposal. The planning commission public hearing is set to continue at the May 22 meeting, and Kynard said planners would be interested in receiving written comments from members of the public as well.
“We would welcome any comments anyone wants to make at the public hearing,” she said.
If the planning commission adopts the new sign regulations on May 22 , city council members will be asked for their approval on June 18.
“If we can get everything ready to go, that’s the schedule,” Kynard said.