Sign goes down but rules advance
Changes to Marion’s ordinance on signs are coming, and council members shared feedback Monday about a draft of the city planning commission’s recommendations.
Zoning administrator director Margo Yates answered questions about 13 rules, most of which came from council member Zach Collett.
“I think it’s a good starting point. I do have a couple questions on it,” Collett told Yates.
Signs became a topic when Dawn’s Day Spa’s owner put up a sign hanging over the sidewalk that fell off last week, perhaps because of wind.
Collett wanted to ensure that permits would be required.
“The first thing it says is that a permit is required,” Yates said.
A city official charged with building inspections or zoning compliance would have to permit and approve all new signs.
Suggested changes to regulations would include:
- Face-mounted signs would be allowed.
- Signs perpendicular to storefronts would be allowed and could be round, oval, rectangular, or square, but couldn’t exceed one square foot for each foot of lineal street frontage.
- Signs only could state a business’ name and service it providers, such as “Smith Real Estate.”
- Product endorsements wouldn’t be allowed on protruding signs.
- Signs would be a minimum of 8 feet above grade and not extend over a building’s roofline.
- Signs could protrude from a building only half the distance of widewalk width, measuring from the outer border to the building’s face.
- Illumination of signs would be allowed, including indirectly lighted, backlit, or neon. Chasing and/or flashing lights would not be. Lighted signs would have to have approved electrical fixtures that illuminate only the sign.
- Metal signs couldn’t be located within 8 feet vertically and 4 feet horizontally of electric wires or conductors in free air carrying more than 48 volts.
- Projecting signs would have to be attached to a building with bolts, anchors, chains, or galvanized steel guy wires or cables, and couldn’t be attached to parapet walls in any manner unless they are reinforced with steel and designed to support the weight of such wall.
- Signs would have to be made of durable, noncombustible materials.
- If a business closed or vacated a building, signs would have to be removed or changed within 60 days.
- Signs would have to be kept in good repair and appearance. Dilapidated signs will be removed if not repaired.
Planning commissioners “looked at other cities and stuff,” Yates said.
Collett expressed concerns about some measurements.
“Eight feet seems a long way to stick out from the side of a building,” he said. “That’s a long length to protrude out.”
Council members agreed they didn’t want to see neon.
“I really don’t want to see anything downtown lighted unless it’s a backlit or white lights,” Collett said. “I don’t really want to see neon or red and green. Maybe that’s just a personal opinion.”
Mayor David Mayfield asked how many businesses downtown were open after dark.
“I don’t know,” Yates said. “I guess we can go down and see.”
Collett also wanted an inspector — James Masters does that work now — to sign off “when they get ready to hang a sign up.”
Before any changes could go into effect, the city would have to publish notice and conduct a public hearing.
The plan now goes back to the planning and zoning commission for formal submission to the city council.
Last modified April 5, 2023