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City looks for changes in sign rules

City looks for changes in sign rules City looks for changes in sign rules

Current codes do not allow most yard signs without special permits

Medford city planner Bob Christensen came to members of the planning commission Monday evening seeking a sign about possible changes to the city’s sign rules.

Like many communities, Medford’s zoning codes include regulation of signs. While primarily geared toward businesses, the regulations also extend to yard signs for nonprofit organizations and events. While the code makes exceptions for some signs such as yard sales and Realtor signs, others, such as those promoting the services of Abiding Care Pregnancy Resource Center or the Holy Rosary Fall Festival are not addressed by the zoning codes. To Christensen, who is the primary enforcer of the code, without those types of signs being specifically allowed, they are prohibited unless the business or individual receives a conditional use permit from the city for each sign placed.

The city charges $150 to apply for a conditional use permit and the approval See CITY on page 5 al process includes a public hearing for each requested location.

The sign issue came up because Christensen happened across an Abiding Care yard sign laying on the ground. Christensen said he took the sign back to Abiding Care.

“I told them you need to withdraw these signs because they are not allowed in the city of Medford,” Christensen said.

“There are many temporary signs that appear throughout the City from time to time. These include some, like ‘House washing’ that promote a product or service (for profit). Others, such as ‘Abiding Care’ that promote a service and others, such as ‘Church Picnic’ that are temporary in nature and/or denote an upcoming event. All of these signs would require a CUP under the current code language,” Christensen stated in a memo to commission members.

“The question here is “ Should some types of signs be allowed by Code (e.g. Public Service Announcements or ‘Church picnic on …’ be allowed in the Code while others be required to have a CUP,” Christensen wrote.

Christensen noted the signs promoting the recent Holy Rosary Fall Festival are also not allowed under the existing city code. He gave the example of signs promoting house washing that had been placed around the city by a business, which Christensen subsequently removed and contacted the business owner saying they needed to have a conditional use permit for them.

“What about Back the Blue?” asked commission member Peggy Kraschnewski, or the pro-law enforcement yard signs that have been popular in the area.

Christensen said they would fall under the same sort of things as political yard signs.

Kraschnewski asked how it would be different to support Abiding Care?

“What about “We love our teachers?” We can’t put them up anymore?” asked commission member Kris Brandner.

“You have to get a condition permit and it will cost $150,” Christensen said about what has to be done to put up the signs.

Kraschnewski said that if she is paying her taxes on her yard, she said she should be able to put any sign up she wants.

Christensen said the question is if should certain signs be allowed while others should not be. For example, should signs for not for profits be allowed while business not allowed?

Christensen also brought up signs placed by contractors working in the city such as for tree removal, roofing or asphalt repair. He said none of the signs are allowed by the zoning codes. However he said he is not going to fight his battle on that hill .

“We need to set some guidelines so folks know what they should or should not be able to do,” Christensen said. For example, he suggested a contractor sign for something like getting a driveway blacktopped should be allowed to be up for a week or 10 days.

Commission member Dave Zimmerman suggested the city just outlaw all signs regardless of what they are for. “No signs period,” he said.

Commission members suggested Christensen should look at how places like Marshfield, Stevens Point and elsewhere handle these types of signs.

Christensen noted there has been pushback at the city council level by Abiding Care questioning the enforcement of the sign rule.

“You just want people to hate you,” Kraschnewski said, jokingly to Christensen.

Christensen said he was looking for direction on how the city wanted to proceed with these types of small, temporary signs.

“I am not going to tell law enforcement to go start ripping signs down,” Christensen said.