KINGMAN - The city of Kingman moved one step closer to putting broad regulations on electronic business signs Monday.
The Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended new regulations on on-premises signs that utilize LED displays, such as the ones outside Diamond Brother's Jewelers at 4255 Stockton Hill Road and Ridgeview Dental at 2535 Hualapai Mountain Road. The proposed regulations impose a number of new restrictions on nighttime brightness, message duration and animations, as well as adding several mechanical requirements.
The recommendation comes as the latest in a months-long string of discussions that were prompted by complaints regarding the nighttime brightness of the Ridgeview Dental sign, which is located in a mostly residential area with few other bright lights. The sign's owner, Dr. Teri Sandoval, has since turned down the brightness of her sign at night, but that hasn't stopped commissioners from seeking to proactively tackle future complaints.
The new regulations would limit the nighttime brightness of LED signs to no greater than .6 foot-candles over the ambient lighting conditions, as measured from 100 feet away. A foot-candle is a measurement of how much light is hitting something at a certain distance, with one foot-candle roughly equivalent to the light from a single candle one foot away.
For comparison, the Ridgeview Dental sign was recently measured at .52 foot-candles at 100 feet, while a traditional internally-lit sign at Manglesdorf Dentistry measured just .19 foot-candles at the same distance. Both would fall within the limits approved by P&Z.
What may concern businesses more are the new regulations on message duration. Commissioners agreed that the staff suggestion of a minimum four seconds per message was too lengthy given the amount of time passing motorists would have to view such signs. Instead, commission chair Matt Ladendecker suggested that duration be dropped to two seconds, which his colleagues agreed on. Commissioners also agreed LED signs should be prohibited from flashing, and would be limited only to static images and transitions, which would appear to bar animations, such as a waving flag.
The commission also included language that would require LED sign owners to ensure that their sign is equipped with a sensor that will automatically regulate the sign's brightness as surrounding lighting conditions change. Businesses will also have to install a backup control system pre-programmed with sunset and sunrise times in case the light sensor fails.
The new LED regulations will go before the City Council for final approval June 7.
Commissioners also began looking at new regulations for off-premise LED displays, such as the electronic billboards that can be frequently seen in larger cities. While no such billboards currently exist in the Kingman area, improvements in LED technology have been making them steadily more affordable in recent years.
Commissioners considered language similar to what they approved for on-premise LEDs, with a few additional caveats including distancing. Commissioner Scott McCoy suggested putting a limit of 1,200 feet between LED billboards but also suggested allowing limited animation for them. This prompted a spokeswoman for the industry, Christina Butler of Lamar Advertising, to explain that LED billboards typically don't use animation. She added that she would rather see the commission allow shorter distances between billboards with a total ban on animation.
"I'd rather see 500 feet and no animation than 1,200 feet and animation allowed," she said.
Noting that standard billboards are currently allowed to be as little as 300 feet apart, Commissioner Sandi Reynolds wondered whether imposing greater distance limitations on electronic billboards would turn any potential conversions into a "first-come, first-served" situation. Development Services Director Gary Jeppson indicated that would probably end up being the case.
The commission directed staff to draft some of the changes based on their discussion and present a formal amendment for electronic billboards at next month's meeting.