New sign ordinance in place

Published on Thu, Jul 26, 2001
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New sign ordinance in place

After two years on the drawing board, Blaine has a new citywide sign ordinance. At their July 29 meeting city council voted unanimously to approve the new regulations, with a caveat. Staff was directed to develop a “streetscape plan” within eight months that establishes shared off-premise and highway signage to allow merchants to recoup some of the visibility the new regulations take away by making signs smaller and lower.

“Our goal was to reduce the profile of signs without reducing their effectiveness,” said city planning and community development director Terry Galvin. “I believe we’re at the edge of some fairly significant development and I’d like to have this in place,” said Galvin.

“The overall effect of these regulations is to reduce the size of signs, lower their height and eliminate billboard signs,” Galvin said. Total sign area has been reduced from four feet of sign per lineal foot of building frontage to three feet.

The height of all freestanding signs has been set at 25 feet, an increase for single signs but a decrease for group signs. Vehicle signs and billboards are not allowed, but portable signs and sandwich boards are allowed. In the downtown core, the more stringent rules of the turn-of-the-century design guidelines sign supplement apply.

Sign owners are required to keep their signs in good condition and the new ordinance provides enforcement measures if they do not.

Owners of signs that don’t meet the new criteria will be grandfathered in and will not have to be replaced as long as they remain active and substantially unchanged. “If you go out of business or stop operating for 90 days you need to take it down,” Galvin said.

The new sign ordinance also reduce the amount of regulation the city imposes on sign owners, combining 21 chapters of code into one and eliminating the permit requirements for many smaller signs. “The previous ordinances were very prescriptive,” Galvin said. “This ordinance is very flexible and allows the opportunity to insert some common sense in the permitting process,” Galvin said.

The price of sign permit fees will also go down for most signs. “A minor sign permit would cost $15 over the counter, while major permits requiring review would start at $25,” Galvin said. .