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Ordinance rewrite regulates signs by location rather than content

The Town Council on Jan. 9, 2017 adopted a new sign ordinance that regulates signs by location rather than content.

The rewritten ordinance complies with a 2015 Supreme Court ruling which says that limits placed on the size of church signs in the town of Gilbert, Ariz. were unconstitutional.

The rewrite also clarifies current prohibitions on electronic message-board signs and banner signs that stretch across roadways. Existing signs will be grandfathered, and with a permit may be replaced if damaged or worn out.

No one spoke at a hearing before the council vote, but Town Councilor Caitlin Jordan suggested the council put off approving the rewrite until next month to insure public input. "That seems to be our ongoing struggle, we don't hear from public until sometimes it's too late," Jordan said. She said she was drafting a policy proposal to delay votes on ordinances or other major items until a month after their public hearings.

Jamie Garvin, Town Council chair, said he supported Jordan's policy work, but in this case - the rewrite was drafted in public over several months - delay was unnecessary.

Patty Grennon, another councilor, said she also believed the hearing was duly advertised. She said that Jay Cox, owner of the Old Farm Christmas Place who attended meetings while the rewrite was drafted, had indicated his approval of the proposed changes. "He was very worried about it, so I feel there we did get some input," she said. "I don't feel we need to leave this one hanging, personally."

"I think generally the public and the people drive some of those feelings of waiting," Grennon said.

Updating the sign ordinance is a Town Council goal for 2016. The ordinance committee is also recommending the town look into updating policies on municipal message boards so they comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

The sign ordinance was last updated in March 2015, when political signs were allowed on public rights-of-way.