Further changes to Centerville's sign ordinance may be made soon, but this time city leaders hope for a better balance in citizen response.
To accomplish that, the city will most likely secure the services of a pollster to help properly steer the direction of any amendments. Otherwise, council members fear a repeat of previous attempts to amend the sign ordinance, when the only feedback came from business owners.Recent battles over Centerville's sign ordinance have proven a tug-of-war between proponents of better aesthetics and those who say larger and taller signs bring in business.
"Wouldn't it be great to get off of I-15 and instead of a row of tall pole signs, you could see a row of cottonwood trees?" Scott Isaacson, the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said during a joint meeting with the City Council Tuesday night.
For Isaacson, improved landscaping around businesses, coupled with the reduction of pole signs, would improve Centerville's future image. In fact, during the initial battles over the sign ordinance, the City Council followed Isaacson's lead and passed a much more restrictive ordinance in November 1996.
Some of the more restrictive aspects of that ordinance, which remains in effect, relate to the use of pole signs. Currently, pole signs are only allowed at the I-15 and Parrish Lane interchange or at entrances to shopping centers.
The ordinance raised the ire of a variety of business owners, however. Businesses not right next to I-15 couldn't advertise their presence to travelers as effectively, which hurt their business. Also, businesses along Main Street complained because although they didn't want large pole signs, many of the buildings didn't have adequate setbacks from the road to allow the placement of monument, or ground, signs.
During the spring and summer of 1997, City Council members addressed this issue, said Paul Allred, Centerville's community director. Finally, they asked staff members to evaluate the needs of the community and draft amendments to the ordinance accordingly.
The council has taken no action except informal planning meetings. Primarily, Allred said, the council is hoping to involve non-business members of the community to a greater extent.
"As a community, we need the business owners' input," Allred said. "But we should also extend that involvement to everyone."
Currently, the council is considering a number of recommendations, but nothing is concrete until further input from residents. Among those recommendations:
- Allowing pole signs of varying height in various commercial areas. Signs could range from the 60 feet currently allowed to approximately 20 feet along Main Street.
- Basing sign height and area on the size, location, and number of businesses located within a shopping center.
- Encouraging the use of monument signs through reduced license rates.
Allred said the businesses that have come into Centerville since passage of the new ordinance have adhered to it, despite the fact that many businesses have signs built under the old, less restrictive ordinance.
"We need an ordinance that is aesthetically pleasing but reasonable and fair at the same time," Mayor John Hirschi said.