Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The off- site signage land development code proposed amendments passed 6 to 0 at the Oct. 25 planning commission meeting. The amendments to Title 17 had been previously tabled for further discussion after last month’s meeting and public hearing.
The amendments will move on to the November 15 Gardner City Council meeting after a required 14 day protest period for anyone to write in or call about disapproval of the amendments.
David Knopick, community development director,  presented the changes to the amendments.
Knopick said the key was they had to be respectful and mindful of the Johnson County and State billboard regulations.
Gardner can be less restrictive than the State requirements and less or more restrictive than the county, but because of the Supreme Court ruling they couldn’t regulate the messaging, he said.
“We have to look at the physical qualities of the structure itself,” he said.
Knopick said the requirements will be allowing signs in C3, M1 and M2 districts but not C2; property abutting/adjacent to I-35 but not along the interchange ramps and acceleration deceleration lanes or 500 feet beyond lanes; vehicle access provided from nearest roadway other than I-35 for emergency vehicle access purposes, removal of one maximum sign per parcel requirement, more restrictive distance than the State of 600 feet distance for no electrical digital signs; seperation measured along I-35 centerline, displays on 750 square feet facing the same direction but can have a double faced sign; 15 feet tall by 50 feet wide sign; setback from 50’feet changed to 15 feet, Johnson County regulations In unincorporated areas and a maximum height of 30’feet with conditional permission for up to 50 feet pole signs.
“We would look at sensitivity issues and impact of the area on residents,” he said.
Knopick said other requirements were for some landscaping around the poles but nothing that blocks the signage, no flashing intermittent moving lights on the signs with limited brightness and static images for at least 10 seconds, signs built adequately and kept in good condition to be inspected and certified by a Kansas licensed engineer, permits renewed every five years and the signs were still subject to State and Federal regulations beyond the city’s regulations.
Only one sign for a lottery is in the city limits of Gardner off of I-35, as the majority of land zoning is for commercial and residential usage, he said.
Knopick said the lottery sign will be considered a legal non-conforming sign because it was on the land before the property was annexed into Gardner.
Mia Ham, commissioner, said she wanted to thank Knopick for bringing up all the items and changes from the last meeting.
“I am more favorable this month than last month,” she said.
Austin Juernaman, commissioner, said he wanted to know more details about the setback changes from 50 to 15 feet.
Knopick said it was from the edge of the sign back.
“People last month made an effective argument,” he said. “There are no setback requirements with the county or state but I like some right of way expansion.”
Knopick said he was more comfortable with some buffer than no buffer between the signs and road.
Stacy Cooper, commissioner, said she wanted to know how the buffer consideration is determined between Gardner’s requirements versus Johnson County.
Knopick said most of the I-35 area is in unincorporated Johnson County.
“We can only look at what is inside the City of Gardner,” he said. “Johnson County regulations are pretty stringent about height so there is not a lot of interest.”
Knopick said there wasn’t much area for new signs to go in with a seperation and the County regulations.
“It’ll be a case by case basis,” he said. “Only three or four properties have the ability to put up a principal use sign.”
Knopick said they would have the city attorney look at the seperation from every sign.
“We don’t fully anticipate legal situations and will look at things case by case basis, but will have to have legal guidance,” he said.
The meeting was Chairman Scott Boden’s last meeting before moving out of State. He had previously announced at the September meeting that that meeting was his last after 23 years, but there had been a delay in his move.
Knopick said planning commission elections are normally held in May but they would see if there was a need to conduct an officer election.
“We want to get Boden’s seat filled and the City has started the process already in motion,” he said.
Adrianna Meder, vice-chairperson, will fill Boden’s seat in the interim time.