Commonwealth Journal

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July 29, 2013

Problem Signs

Somerset Council is ready to rid highways of proliferation of signs

Somerset —

 
The signs are everywhere, and in Somerset’s case, that has never seemed more true. 
City officials want local businesses, organizations, and citizens to know that they plan on ridding the city of the influx of signs that have sprung up in the hundreds. 
“We’ve had some council people talk to us, and also some citizens about the proliferation of all the temporary signs all along (U.S.) 27,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler during a workshop meeting on Monday, July 22. 
Girdler said he drove around a quarter of a mile on U.S. 27 and counted hundreds of signs, many of them advertising new business openings, big sales and even yard sales and garage sales.
“Some council people have said it’s becoming an eyesore,” said Girdler. “(U.S.) 27 is especially bombarded with signs.” 
In this case, the city isn’t facing a new ordinance to keep the signs from U.S. 27 and other major roads. The city has a sign ordinance dating back to 1995, which was amended in 2005, addressing just that issue. 
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.

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