The electronic billboard at the intersection of Yellowstone Avenue and Flandro Drive. | Logan Ramsey, EastIdahoNews.com
POCATELLO — The city has established a panel to address concerns over changes to its sign ordinance.
This comes after a public hearing on Nov. 15, where members of the business and advertising community overwhelmingly spoke in opposition to the proposal.
“We’re hearing and understanding the various perspectives (and) opinions on signs in our community and (discussing) a code that’s going to both support businesses as well as maintain the beauty of our surroundings,” said Jennifer Flynn, assistant planner with Planning and Development Services.
The proposed changes aim to simplify the current code, which officials say is overly complicated. The most controversial aspects of the proposed changes apply to billboards and electronic signs, limiting hours in the night when they could be illuminated, as well as banning the construction of new billboards.
Frank Nuding, a commercial real estate agent who has been outspoken against the proposed changes, doesn’t want to see the sign code changed.
“Basically, you are taking use away from a property owner. Maybe (an) owner has an opportunity to have a billboard on his property, but by ordinance, the city can stop that,” Nuding said.
At the end of the November meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to keep the public hearing open and resume it at the next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. Now, the city has announced that it will forego that meeting to give the newly established panel time to work through the proposed changes.
Once the panel finishes its meetings on the subject, another public hearing will be scheduled at the soonest available Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. That’s when the commission will vote on whether to give the proposal a “do pass” or “don’t pass” recommendation.
The proposal will then go to the City Council, where another public hearing will be scheduled. After that, the council will vote on the proposal.
The people on the panel are the following:
Adam Geyer, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and former sign contractor
Brent McLane, director of planning for the city
Diana Schow, a professor at Idaho State University and concerned resident
Jennifer Flynn, assistant planner with the city’s Planning and Development Services
Jeremy McLaughlin, owner of Sign Up Signs and Graphics
Jim Anglesey, long-range senior planner with the city
Matthew Hunter, CEO of the Pocatello/Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce
Stephanie Harris, co-owner of 14-62 Lumber
A high school student with an interest in planning and development
At the time, Nuding didn’t know who was on the new panel, and he felt that would determine whether it could make changes to make the proposal more friendly to businesses. But Nuding would prefer that the current sign code is kept in place.
“I think the public spoke at the original hearing,” Nuding said.
Flynn said the impetus for reviewing the city sign ordinance was that the current code is overly complicated. City leaders want the public to be in support of these changes, she said, and when they found that the business community was against the proposal, they formed the panel.
“We want to make sure that (the code) is serving the public in the best way possible,” Flynn said.
Although Nuding said that the there could be some clarification in the sign ordinance, he’s against the changes originally proposed by the city.
“These guys are trying to make wholesale changes and to change people’s opportunities to use their property the way that they should be able to use it,” Nuding said.
Nuding said he was open to supporting a compromise, but he wanted to see everyone who would be affected by the changes involved in the conversation.
The first meeting of the panel was held last week, and Flynn said that they were happy to find how productive the conversation was.
“It’s a group with a diverse amount of opinions and perspectives on the benefits or disadvantages that signs can provide to the community,” Flynn said.
The city will make an announcement when the revised proposal is ready.
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