Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Signs point to change in city’s codes

Code review could affect pole signage

October 31, 2006


The signs of change may be coming to busy commercial corridors like 23rd Street. Or actually, it may be the change of signs.

City staff members have begun the laborious process of reviewing the city's sign code, which is the highly technical document that spells out what types of signs businesses are allowed to have.

One of the larger issues they'll have to decide is whether the use of large, tall "pole signs" should continue to be allowed at existing businesses, even though they are no longer allowed as part of new developments.

"That may be part of the changes that we'll look at," City Manager David Corliss said of a possible requirement to have existing businesses replace within a specified time period their pole signs with shorter monument signs.

Corliss said it was still too early in the review to say with certainty that such a phasing out of pole signs would be included in a future recommendation to city commissioners. The City Commission ultimately will approve any changes to the sign code.

Business owners who have an existing pole sign will want to pay attention to the issue. Tammy Moody, an account executive with Luminous Neon Art & Sign, said it could cost businesses anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 to replace a pole sign with a city-approved monument sign.

Plus, Moody said some businesses certainly would express concern about a loss of visibility. A pole sign is generally 25 feet to 30 feet tall, compared with a traditional 12-foot-tall monument sign.

Signage blankets the horizon looking east along 23rd Street from Alabama Street. City staff members may explore the possibility of requiring businesses to lower or replace such pole signs with lower monument signs.

Signage blankets the horizon looking east along 23rd Street from Alabama Street. City staff members may explore the possibility of requiring businesses to lower or replace such pole signs with lower monument signs.

"I think it would be pretty hard on the City Commission if they just tried to ban them," Moody said.

City commissioners said they weren't necessarily pushing for the change. Commissioner Boog Highberger said the commission had expressed a desire for many city codes to be updated, but he said he hadn't received many complaints about pole signs over the years.

"I'm not convinced it is a problem," Highberger said. "I want to be sensitive to the needs of businesses."

John Miller, the city staff attorney working on the update, said poll signs weren't driving the review. Instead, he said he was looking to make sure the sign code works well with the city's new development code, which recently replaced the city's zoning code.

He also said the code needed to be reviewed to ensure that its meaning is clear and still complies with existing case law regarding signs.

Miller hopes to have the review completed by early 2007.

More communities are joining the trend of eliminating pole signs, Moody said. Aesthetic issues mainly are driving the conversion, with some people thinking the shorter signs create a cleaner look for a commercial area.

The city in the mid-1990s began disallowing pole signs as part of new commercial developments, but existing pole signs were allowed to stay.

The only way an existing pole sign is removed is if the business owner makes significant changes to the building or property that require the city to approve a new site plan. At that point, city planners require that the pole signs be replaced by monument signs.

Mike Goans, chairman of the city's Sign Code Board of Appeals, said he would like to see the city code changed to also require removal of a pole sign anytime a business changes ownership.

"I would rather see it happen that way instead of requiring everybody to make a change in a three- to five-year time period," Goans said.


cutny 11 years, 6 months ago know. Maybe Marion could funnel some money into his minions if he actually had any. Too bad he is just another blowhard without any solutions. But uh...gee...he's got that PAC that he's about to "announce." I'm guessing he'll be having a news conference in his front yard any day now, announcing that the largest and only donor is in fact, himself.

common_cents 11 years, 6 months ago

I was the person who put together the cost estimate to local business back in the mid-90's when they tried this the first time.

The cost to community businesses will be astronomical. The boon to the sign business will be equally large.

To give everyone an idea on how many pole signs there were at that time (and there haven't been too many replaced since then) I took a 4x6 picture of every sign I could find in the city. I then put them in standard photo pages with 2 per side, both sides filled.

There were enough pole signs to fill a 3" 3-ring binder. It's been too long to remember what the cost was, but if the Chamber kept that binder, it should make this argument pretty easy.

This is the wrong thing to do for local businesses. The code should be left as is, where new and replacement signs must follow the monument standards, but existing signs should be grandfathered in.

Once again, the Commission and city management are showing just how business adverse they are. Time for a drastic change in this town.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 6 months ago

What kind of non-issue is this? Good point Boog.What is the problem? Besides,these elevated signs are part of the American landscape and part of that rich cultural angle of America I hear so much about.We need these monuments to be left for future archeology students to dig up and decipher. "The Golden Sign was raised into the sky to be nearer to their God's.."

conservative 11 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of 23rd, how much worse do you think it will be when the poll signs get turned into monuments. The only space available on many of those sites will cause visibility issues for cars when trying to get back onto 23rd.

Also the idea of requiring the change when the business changes hands is a bad economic choice. If the business can afford to do it at that time I'm sure they will, but some businesses will be starting up on limited funds and will want to be able to budget the sign replacement further down the road.

A simple deadline of all signs must be replaced by a given date will allow all current and future business owners to plan accordingly and make the decision that makes the most sense for them.

arlo 11 years, 6 months ago

gotta agree who really gives a crap. Lets do something about the screwed up traffic on 23rd be for we worry about the stupid signs. How much tax money do you think it will take to review this "problem" code?

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 6 months ago

ok is this right? we are going to waste money changing signs on 23rd and put them all on the ground so that people can have an even harder time pulling out of these places onto 23rd? And tie up traffic for who knows how long making a pain in th but road even harder to drive on? Why???

sourpuss 11 years, 6 months ago

I think the pole signs are a blight, but monument signs block traffic sight (which is just dangerous). I would say if monument signs were required, then they would need to be placed back from the road... but then you couldn't see the signs, so what is the point of them? Ugliness vs. safety vs. usefulness...

Hoots 11 years, 6 months ago

I happen to like the taller pole signs. I've been a few places where they have the monuments and you don't see the place until you are almost past it. On a busy street like 23rd I think that's a safety issue. If you can see where you want to be a couple of blocks away it makes it easy to plan instead of just slamming on the brakes or having to turn around down the road to get back to where you want to be.

I never thought about the issue of signs blocking sight lines when exiting a business but I've had that happen to. It actually seems like the smarter thing to keep the signs off the ground. But how often have the 3 Amigo's made a truly smart decision?

KS 11 years, 6 months ago

The City should do somethng really important to 23rd street, like starting to support the completion of the SLT. This is our Government at work. What a waste of time.

lunacydetector 11 years, 6 months ago

expect this to be passed at the last second of a late night commission meeting before the three amigos get the boot.

Dale Stringer 11 years, 6 months ago

All those signs get my way of seeing the overhead power lines.

Everyone south of Sioux Falls needs to go north. The signs are there, but not the power/cable lines (for the most part). Looks pretty nice without the lines.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 6 months ago

Yeah they can't resist screwing with every private business trying to make a living. I drove by naughty but nice today and see they put that poor guy out of business after making his life miserable for years. Hope they are real proud of themselves. Thank you, Lynn

Richard Heckler 11 years, 6 months ago

I would say let exisitng signs be and make changes when a site becomes a new business.

Katara 11 years, 6 months ago

Posted by bearded_gnome (anonymous) on October 31, 2006 at 9:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

and, is it called "marionpac?" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I'm thinking Noiram would be a good idea.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm voting for Noiram...has the "noir" at the beginning, kinda cool.

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