First public hearing set for city sign ordinance

Jeff Koehn's picture
Share this

Wholesale changes regarding the many signs that adorn Cape Coral roadways took another step closer to reality at Monday night’s city council meeting.

During the meeting, the council voted to move an ordinance proposing changes to the current signage rules through to an initial public hearing on September 30.

The 28 page ordinance calls for tighter restrictions on many types of signs within city limits, as well as the elimination of others.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Elimination of A-Frame signs on right-of-ways
  • Elimination of temporary signs, which, includes; sign wavers, and parked vehicles with business messages attached.
  • Feather banner restrictions that include; one feather banner per business in multi-business buildings. Business owners would have to obtain a permit that would be good for three week intervals, four weeks per year.
  • Up to 30% of a business window can be covered without a special permit.

The changes are a mixture of new and current restrictions, “Many of these rules have been in place for years, we just haven’t enforced them,” says council member Marty McClain, who is sponsoring the ordinance.

McClain says the city eased up on enforcing the sign regulations when the economy took a nose dive a few years back. At that time, business owners came to the city asking for help in allowing more creative and cost effective ways to advertise their business. The city obliged, but now with the economy beginning to make its way back it is time to start enforcing those regulations again, “Over the past four years it has taken a life of its own. Our streets have gotten to be a circus. We have to go back where we began.”

Going back to the beginning included a complete review and overhaul of the current ordinance. Over the past two years, McClain says the city has met with sign companies, business owners, billboard companies and others who would be effected by the changes, “We have had no less than 11 rewrites of this ordinance over the past two years.”

After countless meetings and hundreds of hours of research, McClain feels the city has an effective ordinance to address the concerns of unregulated signage within city limits.

At the same time, the proposed changes have some business owners fearing for their existence. Patricia Campo, owner of Best Pets Doggie Day Care told the council at Monday night’s meeting without her current signage, her business could suffer dire consequences. Campo explained she subleases space in the back of an existing business, and without the two A-frame signs located in front of the building, her business does not stand much of a chance for survival, “I will for sure go out of business without my two signs.”

Hearing the business owners’ concerns, council member Chris Chulakes-Leetz suggested the council workshop the ordinance for next Monday to further discuss the issue before the scheduled first public hearing on September 30. Chulakes-Leetz explained that the amount of discussion at a recent Planning & Zoning meeting regarding the ordinance was “somewhat brief” and felt further discussion was needed before approving the ordinance.

Council Member Kevin McGrail supported the idea of work shopping the ordinance saying he too, felt that, with the impact, the ordinance could potentially have, more conversation was needed, “If we do not handle this correctly we could end up with a whole lot more empty businesses around our city.”

However, council member Lenny Nesta said the amount of time that has been spent working on the ordinance and meeting with stakeholders, as well as the initial public hearing on September 30 and the final public hearing that should be held two weeks later, would provide plenty of opportunity for those with concerns to voice their opinions without having to add more discussion time to the ordinance. He also said creating more meeting time to the ordinance could bog it down in too much discussion.

Mayor John Sullivan said he was concerned creating rules that will blanket the entire city, “There is not the same amount of density across the city. This is one size fits all. I am not sure it is going to work that way.”

After more discussion, the majority of the council agreed the current schedule of the initial public hearing and final public hearing two weeks later would provide those with concerns enough opportunity to voice their opinions, and enough time for the council to thoroughly discuss the ordinance.

The next step will be the first public hearing which will take place Monday, September30, in council chambers at city hall. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm.