By REID TUCKER
Substantially less signage regulation could be in store for local businesses if the sweeping changes proposed by the DeFuniak Springs Sign Ordinance Committee are approved by the City Council.
If the proposed revisions to Ordinance 777, in effect since 2009, stand up to a vote by the Council, the biggest change will be the wholesale elimination of the signage application process. All told, nearly four entire pages dealing with every aspect of permitting, from the initial signage application to appealing a permit’s revocation before the City Council, were proposed to be stricken from the ordinance.
Sign Ordinance Committee Chairman Art Dees, owner of WZEP AM 1460, said the recommendation to do away with the sign permitting process reflected the desire of the city’s business owners to streamline what they considered a needlessly restrictive signage policy.
“The businesses feel that those were regulations that were not needed in the ordinance,” Dees said. “[The owners] feel they shouldn’t have to ask for permission to put up signs (on their property). The feeling was that there just doesn’t need to be a permitting process.”
While the elimination of the application and permitting sections of the ordinance constituted the majority of the proposed revisions to the ordinance, the committee’s recommendations were more ambitious in scope. The Sign Committee, comprised of Dees, CHELCO Vice President of Member and Administrative Services Aaron Bradshaw and Triangle Chevrolet Buick owner Greg Lathinghouse, based its recommendations solely on input from the community and input was thick on the ground at the committee’s July 14 meeting. Simply put, it would in all likelihood be easier to identify what vestiges of the extant ordinance remained intact after the meeting adjourned.
The committee proposed no changes in regard to signs that impede traffic safety (that is, signs that obscure the view of the road) and also left provisions to ensure that signs are safely installed and maintained while remaining in keeping with the zoning district in which they are located. Also, the committee chose not to alter the ordinance’s intent (if not always the current wording) in sections dealing with temporary holiday and seasonal decorations, illegal signs on public property, abandoned signs, non-commercially related artwork, machinery and safety/warning signs and election signs, while adhering to a policy of tree preservation within the city limits. The section involving state-mandated safety standards that makes sure signs do not obstruct fire escapes, underground facilities for water, sewage, electricity or communication lines and do not reduce or impair a business’s parking and vehicular access was also left untouched.
In fact, the biggest part of the ordinance to have no proposed changes was the “definitions” section, and Dees said that part was left in “just as an issue of clarity.” Other recommended revisions and deletions were far-reaching….
Read the full story in the July 21, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.