Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 29, 2014

Council to businesses: Watch where you put your signs

Somerset — Councilors are reminding businesses that signs can’t go up anywhere and everywhere in the city limits.

“Businesses need to be aware that we do have an ordinance,” said Councilor Jerry Girdler during Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting.

Girdler said he’s seen an influx of business signs in the city that violate the city’s ordinance, which mandates certain standards for posting signs in the city.

Girdler emphasized that his complaints don’t involve political signs, which fall under different regulations.

The city has a sign ordinance dating back to 1995, which was amended in 2005.

The purpose of Ordinance 95-3, amended by Ordinance 05-16, is to “promote and protect the public health, welfare, and safety by regulating existing and proposed outdoor advertising, outdoor advertising signs, and outdoor signs of all types.

“It is intended to protect property values, create a more attractive economic and business climate, enhance and protect the physical appearance of the community, and preserve the scenic nature and beauty of designated areas,” according to the ordinance.

“It is further intended to reduce sign or advertising distractions and obstructions that may contribute to traffic accidents, reduce hazards that may be caused by signs overhanging or projecting over public right-of-ways, provide more open space, and curb the deterioration of the natural environment and enhance community development.”

The ordinance includes language that strictly prohibits signs placed in intersections and on right-of-ways except traffic and directional signs. Signs located off the premises of a business — what many signs located on U.S. 27 would qualify as — are prohibited as well. Those signs located on the premises of a business must be limited to two free-standing signs.

Signs are not allowed to be placed on trees or utility poles, according to the ordinance.

On Monday, councilors said they’re seeing signs on trees, utility poles, and even street signs.

“(It’s) getting out of control again,” said Girdler.

The councilors in July 2013 took extra efforts to let the public know about the city’s long-standing sign ordinance. Councilors worked with other city officials in removing the signs that violated the ordinance, and reported back that they’d received mostly positive feedback from the effort.

“I’m sure it’s just a matter of not knowing that we do have an ordinance that disallows that,” said Councilor Tom Eastham on Monday. “There’s a lot of them popping up.”

Eastham noted he saw some signs on Bogle Street that violated the ordinance.

“Let’s just keep the pressure on that,” said Eastham.


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