Special to The Gardner News
At the last scheduled 2017 meeting of Gardner City Council on Dec. 18, council answered the question of whether the Royals sign will stay or go, considered amendments and additions to code for industrial building design requirements and considered planning commission recommendations for approvals of two subdivision developments.
No changes to sign code
On Aug. 10 the council heard public comment and staff explanation on the issue of a resident being cited by the city for a Royals sign mounted on the side of their deck that the city said was in violation of city code.
The topic had caused a stir on social media, attracted metro TV news and generated a lot of public comment at that Aug 10 meeting.
The result that night was council voting all in favor of pausing the cease and desist letter sent to the resident and directing the Planning Commission to review the sign codes.
In the time since, staff and commission have re-evaluated the code pertaining to signs and recommendation was brought to council.
“The Planning Commission did take under review the recommendation to look at the code to see if that in fact stood the test for what it is supposed to represent, or if it needed to be changed,” said Larry Powell, business and economic development director.
Powell said that “after much discussion and much review with other city’s codes,” the Planning Commission recommendation was to deny amending the Gardner Land Development Code (LDC) Section 17.10 Sign Standards, regarding wall signs in residential districts
“The motion to deny means nothing changes in the code,” Powell told council.
An alternative was offered that made slight changes in wording that defines the word ‘sign’, an effort to to make the code more clear, but Powell pointed out that neither option would make the sign that started this review legal.
Powell stepped aside and Chris Morrow, mayor, opened the floor for public comments. There were none. Council discussion followed.
“My question is, how do I vote to maintain that the sign ordinance just doesn’t – we just don’t have one?” commented Rich Melton, council member, adding that he had not seen the need for it.
Morrow advised Melton to vote no in this vote and then build consensus to drop the code at a future meeting. Ryan Denk, city attorney, said the governing body could initiate a process that would require review and recommendation of Planning Commission before coming to council.
Lee Moore, council member, noted a lot of time and resources had already been used to review the code.
“It really wouldn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense, to me, to get rid of it at this point. Especially knowing that six months from now somebody puts up a really offensive sign somewhere, and we’re going to be right back here talking about it again, expending city resources talking about the same thing, when we could just take care of it right now,” said Moore.
Steve Shute, council president, said he appreciated the due diligence of the Planning Commission on this subject and understood the rationale.
“From the standpoint of consistency and the rule of law, I think we have to be diligent and we have to be consistent,” ,said Shute.
Motion to deny text amendments to the sign code was made by Todd Winters, council vice-president, seconded by Melton and passed with a 5-0 vote.
During the public meeting, Ryan Denk, city attorney, said that it needed to be stated that there would be two executive sessions tonight. (Only one was listed on the printed agenda). The topic of the first session would be personnel matters and the second was for discussion of legal dispute regarding property.