Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The off site signage land development code amendment was tabled for further discussion and vote at the Sept. 27 meeting.
Commission members said they needed more information and time to decide height requirements for billboards after hearing from citizens at the public hearing.
David Knopick, community development director, said it would be easy to strike out the one sign per parcel requirement maximum from the code and could be flexible moving the setback distance from 50 to 15 feet.
Knopick said he would suggest and look into a conditional use permit process for signs wanting to be over 30 feet.
“We could look at each individual situation,” he said. “But it can never be higher than 50 feet because of the state requirement.”
Knopick said he would err on the conservative side because he doesn’t know where Gardner’s future development is going to grow for residential, industrial and commercial use on the east side of I-35.
“We are growing in this area,” he said. “We will be annexing the east side of I-35, and I don’t know when but we will and it’s important to understand today’s code and the future.”
Lynn Baker, resident, said he was pleased to hear Knopick’s recommendations for billboards but didn’t approve of 30 feet of height for a sign.
“30 feet height is awfully low compared to other signs,” he said. “And a 50 foot setback is an awful long ways and will take out a lot of trees.”
Baker said the ability to see signs coming into Gardner from south I-35 was very important.
“You’re not going to turn around and come back after you’ve driven through Gardner,” he said.
Baker said if the signs were above the tree height it’d be a lot better opportunity.
Jason Camis, Gardner Edgerton chamber of commerce president, said the ceiling in city hall was probably 12 feet and 30 feet was just right above people’s heads.
The standard billboard height is 50 feet, he said, and a person can hardly see what they see if the sign is too low.
“The billboard thing is a good thing,” he said. “It is a good opportunity for the community.”
Fred Winger, Stillwell business owner, said he had two of the signs that currently align with I-35 in Gardner.
“ The regulations are good and reasonable,” he said.
Winger said however without the changes of a setback from 50 feet to 15 feet from the roadway  and raising the height Gardner would be unlikely to see billboards.
Mia Ham, commission member, said considerable info had been brought to them for discussion during the public hearing.
“I have more concern of the growing community of Gardner and don’t want to hamper that,” she said. “I would like to see the difference of 30 to 50 feet and the impact.”
Knopick said the Hampton Inn was 62 feet tall and the best way to gage.
Height can fluctuate, but he was sensitive to signs near residential properties he said.
Ham said future homeowners want unobstructed views,and she was concerned about billboards ruining the trail system nearby.
Steve McNeer, commission member, said he also had concern about sign height because of safety to drivers trying to see.
“If a sign is harder to see at 30 feet is 50 feet high easy to read,” he said.
Winger said 80 feet would be too high because it draws a driver’s eye above the road.
Austin Jueneman, commission member, said he travels on I-29 in Missouri for work and doesn’t enjoy the proliferation of billboards all in a row.
Knopick said with current zoning in the area and the warehouse development to the South at the Intermodal, Gardner was limited for billboard placements.
“It doesn’t impact further North,” he said.
Knopick said they couldn’t change the county rules as they are stringent.
Scott Boden, commission president, said the city had found out pretty recently and a lot had been thrown at them in a short time.
“It feels pretty restrictive, and I’d like more time,” he said.
The phase two final plats for the Tallgrass subdivision at the Northwest corner of Moonlight and University Drive passed. The three lot subdivision includes two duplex lots and multi-family residential developments.
Steve Boden, chairman, announced Monday night’s meeting was his last meeting after 23 years.
Boden said his family was moving out of state.
“I have enjoyed commission, and don’t want to give it up,” he said.
Robert Case, city planner, said he appreciated Boden’s leadership and insight over the years they had worked together.
Commission members said they appreciated Boden’s support as new members.