Columbiana council approves strict sign regulations

&uot;The city of Columbiana now has a sign ordinance.&uot;

Those were the words of Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe following the recent unanimous approval by the City Council

of action to add sign regulations to the city’s zoning ordinance.

The council, with all members present, approved an ordinance adding Article 9 (sign regulations) to the city’s zoning ordinance at its regular Sept. 17 meeting. The new regulations became effective Friday, Sept. 20.

Councilmember Tom Seale requested the matter to be placed on the agenda. But Lowe wanted to bring the sign regulations to a vote much sooner on July 16.

He said at that time,

&uot;I don’t have a real sense of urgency, but this has been on the table for a long time.&uot;

However, as the result of concerns expressed by local merchants, Lowe decided not to bring the matter up for action in July.

&uot;I feel there needs to be more clarification before I call for a vote,&uot; he said.

When Lowe called for the vote on Sept. 17 he

pointed out that the city had public hearings, received public comment and received revisions from the Planning Commission.

The city’s Planning Commission held public hearings on March 7 and April 11 and the City Council took public comments on April 16.

Councilmember Tim Billingsley seconded the motion to bring the sign regulations to a vote and the entire council voted in favor on a roll call voice vote.

Following the action, Lowe said that in the future when someone gets a permit

for a sign that meets the zoning regulations, they will be &uot;good to go&uot; without having to come before the council.

During the Sept. 17 meeting, but prior to the vote on the sign ordinance, the council heard a sign request from Judy Bates for Davenport Bonding Company.

Bates asked for permission to erect an 8-foot by 3-foot sign, but said the size was &uot;negotiable.&uot; When requested by the council to consider a 6-foot by 3-foot sign, Bates agreed, and the sign was approved unanimously.

Under the new sign regulations, all non-conforming signs (other than portable, animated or hazardous) must be removed or modified to conform with the new regulations within 20 years of the effective date of the regulations.

However, signs which are portable, animated or constitute a safety hazard must be removed within six months of the effective date of the regulations.

Also under the new regulations no new billboards can be erected after the effective date of the ordinance. And owners &uot;may not add to the area of or otherwise materially alter the structure of existing billboards …&uot;

However, owners may continue to use billboards as they exist on the effective day of the ordinance, must maintain them in accordance with the ordinance and can replace damaged or destroyed billboards up to 100 percent of their replacement cost &uot;as long as the repaired or replaced billboards do not exceed in area or is not materially different from the original.&uot;

According to the new regulations, signs will be considered in violation if they were erected after the effective date of Article 9 and are inconsistent with the ordinance; if they were erected prior to the effective date and are inconsistent with the terms governing the location, height, surface area or other regulation at the time; if they were damaged or destroyed in excess of 50 percent the replacement cost and not removed consistent with the terms of the ordinance; and if they were abandoned.

Violation of the ordinance is subject to a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $250 and court cost for each offense. Also, each day such a violation continues is considered a separate offense.

In general, based upon the new regulations, prohibited signs include:

Any sign with a face area of greater than 200 square feet.

Any sign in the opinion of the director that potentially constitutes a safety hazard.

Portable signs, usually transported by wheels.

Signs with visible moving, revolving or rotating parts except for traditional barber poles.

Signs with illumination that flash or vary in intensity or color except for time and temperature.

Strings of light bulbs on commercially developed property for commercial purposes other than traditional holiday or special occasion decorations.

Wind signs.

Signs that incorporate projected images, emit sound that is intended to attract attention or involve the use of live animals.

Signs that emit audible sound, odor or visible matter such as smoke.

Signs or sign structures that interfere with any fire escape, emergency exit, or block windows so that light or ventilation is reduced to a point below city regulations.

Signs that resemble any official sign or marker by any government agency or which could conflict with the operation of any traffic signal or conceal a traffic control device.

Signs that obstruct the vision of pedestrians, cyclist, motorists traveling on or entering public streets whether on public or private property.

Non-governmental signs that use the words &uot;stop, look, listen, danger&uot; or similar word or phase or symbol that might be confused with regulatory signs.

Signs that are so bright they impair the vision of any motorist, cyclist or pedestrian using or entering a public street or that are a hazard our nuisance.

Signs that are painted, pasted or printed on any curbstone, flagstone, pavement or any portion of any sidewalk or street, except house numbers and traffic control signs.

Signs placed on benches or waste receptacles, except those authorized in writing by the City Council.

Signs fixed to any pole, tree, fence, building, structure or signpost for any purpose other than its official use.

Signs erected over or across any public street or right-of way except as may otherwise be expressly authorized by these regulations, except governmental signs erected by or on the order of a public officer.

Vehicle signs with a total sign area in excess of 10 square feet when parked for more than one hour within 100 feet of any street right-of-way, is visible from that street right-of-way and is not regularly used in the conduct of business advertised on the vehicle.

Sign (other than official highway markers or authorized historical marker) erected within the right-of-way of any public street or roadway.

Any sign with illegal, obscene or prurient words, scenes or graphics.

Snipe signs.

Beacons or searchlights.

Signs that identify a home-based business.

Any sign towed behind a vehicle, water craft or airplane.

Any non-permitted sign or sign which does not meet the requirements of the ordinance.

Any sign for which a permit has been denied.

Billboards.

Off-Premise signs.

In other matters, the council:

n Approved the renewal of a maintenance agreement for the telephone system at an annual cost of $2,000.83.

n Approved the payment to Sain Associates in the amount $21,091.37 (state funds) for work in connection with intersection improvements.

n Approved a donation of $2,000 to Columbiana Youth Football League from the Park Board Account.

n Approved the transfer from the General Fund of $1,453.69 for the library; $6,100.74 to Park & Recreation; and $285.79 to Ball Park Construction.

n It was also announced that the newsletter deadline is Thursday, Oct. 10. And in pre-council, council members heard a presentation on internships by Dora Montgomery of the Business and Finance Academy at Shelby County High School