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Crown Point ponders what is a sign

Updated: May 16, 2013 6:19AM



CROWN POINT — Just what constitutes a sign is one of the issues planners want to tackle as they look to revamp the city’s sign ordinance in the coming months.

Questions about whether or not it is time to change the city’s billboard rules to bring the ordinance more in line with the Highway Beautification Act will also be considered.

“We’ve dealt with so many sign issues in the last few years we felt it was time to revisit the ordinance,” said Joe Irak, plan commission attorney.

Currently the city restricts billboards to B3 zoning. Billboards can be no closer than 2,500 feet. The HBA allows for the spacing of billboards to be as close as 500 feet and expands zoning to B2, said Christopher Meyers, planning administrator.

Vague and sometimes contradictory wording in the ordinance is bringing more and more businesses before the Board of Zoning Appeals for variances to allow a sign, in some cases one that is almost identical to the sign on a neighboring business.

Meyers said confusion also arises on the size of signs. Currently the city allows 200 square feet of signage per building. Questions often come up over whether that figure is one side or the total of two sides of a sign or if it should include the monument itself or just the sign space within the mounting.

Meyers said he would like officials to consider granting the planning department administrative control of new sign issues that come up in areas where there are already a large number of existing signs that are in violation of the 30-foot setback requirement in the ordinance.

BZA members routinely grant variances for new businesses so their signs are compatible with the existing signs in areas of the city such as the commercial stretch of Summit Street.

Planners said they would also like the ordinance to clarify what exactly is considered a sign.

“As things get more modernized it becomes more difficult,” Meyers said.

If a business paints its name and number on a wall, is that a sign. Some businesses also use projectors to display images on buildings. It also is unclear if temporary signs placed in windows should count toward the 200 square foot size limitation or if a vehicle covered with advertising parked in front of the business should count.

Plan Commission member John Marshall said there is a lot to talk about before officials take any action.

“Right off the bat I’m not for moving billboards closer together,” he said.



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