As certain as death, taxes or Donald Trump making outrageous, headline-grabbing statements, sign codes make headlines nationwide. Here’s the latest rundown of alternate interesting, infuriating and confounding news items:
• In North Knoxville, TN, Magpies Bakery owner Peggy Hambright wants to erect a rooftop structure that portrays a stick of butter and an egg holding hands. She contends that it’s artwork, which is exempt from regulation; however, the city’s Plans Review and Inspections Division perceives as a sign, which is against city codes. Hambright contends, “We have a lot of blight, a lot of visual clutter, and I think we just need something fun and pretty and outstanding.” Her next option is to state her case to the Board of Zoning Appeals. According to the WATE-TV’s website, the city hasn’t examined its sign code since 2004.
• According to the New Albany (MS) Gazette, owners of the New Albany Animal Clinic and the town’s board of aldermen have come to a compromise regarding the clinic’s sign. The article states the facility’s owners had purchased a $22,000 illuminated sign with a messageboard to replace the site’s prior, wooden sign. However, when they sought a permit, it was denied. The ordinance had been written to stem usage of portable, flashing-arrow signs, but also forbade this stationary, monument sign. Also, it exceeded square-football limits, and its messageboard was also prevented by regulations. Eventually, the aldermen enacted a half-measure variance, allowing a square-footage increase but ruling against illumination and a messageboard. Mayor Tim Kent commented that the sign ordinance has “gotten out of hand,” and asked for a new ordinance that is more amenable to business growth.
• Springdale, AR aldermen approved a sign ordinance that reduced permissible square footage for new signage, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The new code reduces signs’ maximum height from 60 to 30 ft., and cut allowable square footage from 400 to 150 ft. Mike Chamlee, an employee with the city’s building department, said aesthetics were the primary reason for the change, and Alderman Eric Ford said he didn’t think the change would impact the city’s business climate. Clinton Bennett, a representative for local property owners, argued against the new regulations, but noted that variances are still an option. The changes won’t apply to the district-overlay area along I-49, where says may stand up to 100 ft. tall.
• The High Country Press reported that Boone, NC psychic Catalyna Leath claimed she’d been “railroaded” by the city’s planning and inspection department because of its refusal to issue a sign permit for her enterprise, Psychic Visions. Leath’s business, which is operated out of a leased residence, sits below grade of the adjoining highway, isn’t easily visible and has no frontage. The article noted that the adjacent parcel of land, where a thrift store had been in operation, had been sold, and the permit disagreement ensued. The article noted a city planner’s dispute over the property-line assessment, and a stipulation requiring a change-of-use permit. Her current sign connected to the house is too large for residential use – the area is zoned for business, but Leath’s property is grandfathered. However, if it’s rezoned, she’ll have to vacate her residence.
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