Council set to change sign code
Business owners delivered suggestions to Council Tuesday
KINGMAN - Just five months after it amended the city sign ordinance, the Kingman City Council appears set to amend it again.
At Tuesday evening's Council meeting, Mayor John Salem directed city staff to initiate the amendment process, this time seeking to loosen the city's regulations on on-going temporary signs, which have been a cause for concern for many local businesses after the city tightened those same regulations in April.
The amended sign ordinance initially took effect in June, and by the following month, scads of business owners - car dealers in particular - had been served code violation notices for essentially putting up the same types of signage they had for years. Several business owners, including local car dealership owners Martin Swanty and Hank Nolte, approached Council with their concerns at the July 20 meeting, leading Council to impose a moratorium on all sign code enforcement until the matter could be resolved.
Over the following month, Swanty, Nolte and six other business owners met three times to work out their suggestions for revisions to the sign ordinance. Those suggestions were presented to Council on Tuesday.
The revisions consist mainly of a series of changes to the on-going, off-premises temporary sign regulations, such as those used for subdivision home sales. The revisions would lengthen the time limit for such signs from weekends only to year-round, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They would also allow flags and signs made from wrought iron, sheet metal, plastic or wood, and would expand the size limitation from 3 square feet and 30 inches in height to 15 square feet and up to 8 feet in height, to account for the use of flags. The business owners also proposed a whole new section to allow on-going, on-premises temporary signs, such as those used on car lots. City Development Services Director Gary Jeppson described the new section as "on the cutting edge" compared with Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City, which do not allow such signs.
The new section would allow businesses to place a host of attention-getting devices on their property, including: A-frame signs, banners, pennants, wind-driven spinners, streamers, balloons, flags and inflatable structures. The signs must be entirely contained within the owner's private property, and businesses are limited to 1 square foot of signage per foot of building frontage adjacent to the street, plus 1 square foot for each foot of property frontage adjacent to the street, up to a maximum 150 feet.
Additionally, such signage could be placed in any commercial or industrial zone, including commercial planned development districts. Businesses could also place signs for non-residential uses on any residential property they own. None of the signs would require the businesses to seek a temporary sign permit from the city.
Several of the business owners who drafted the changes spoke before Council Tuesday, citing their agreement that the changes would make their business operations substantially easier. "This is what we've come up with that we believe would be real satisfactory to the business community and still keep the community clean and uncluttered," Swanty said. "I think the community is wanting to have nice signs, nice banners and a good, clean city, and we'll really take advantage of this."
For his part, Salem said he had no problem with the changes as proposed. "If it makes it easier on businesses in this time of economic strife, I say we give it a try and see how it goes," he said.
Councilman Ray Lyons agreed with Salem, noting that he particularly appreciated the business owners' suggestion that on-premise signs must be regularly maintained and kept in safe, presentable condition. "I think that's probably the most important (part)," Lyons said. Carole Young and Keith Walker agreed that the maintenance issue was important.
Councilwoman Robin Gordon thanked the business community for its help and patience in revisiting the sign ordinance, conceding that she and her colleagues "can admit we made a mistake."
"The previous sign ordinance was too restrictive, and I don't think any of us realized how restrictive it was going to be," Gordon said.
"So it's really good we involved the people in the community that are going to be affected by the sign ordinance, and we're working together to come up with something that will work for everybody."
With that, Salem directed staff to initiate the public hearing process to amend the ordinance as written.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold its public hearing on Oct. 13, with Council to follow on Nov. 7.