Exactly what types of signs are permitted, how large signs can be and where signs can be placed were all topics of conversation that arose during last night's Sunnyside Planning Commission meeting.
Members of the commission took time to take another look at the draft of the sign ordinance the city is looking to adopt.
Sunnyside City Attorney Mark Kunkler noted that although the ordinance is lengthy, currently it sits at 24 pages, it isn't any longer than most cities' sign ordinances. He said that since the last meeting he has reviewed a myriad of sign ordinances from different cities and they all seemed to be about 25 pages long.
However, it wasn't the length of the ordinance that concerned some Planning Commission members. Instead, it was how restrictive the document is.
One of the types of signs that is listed in the ordinance as prohibited are strings of banners and pennants.
"Do we want to get that direct with prohibited signs?," asked Commissioner Theresa Hancock. "I don't want to be restricting the decorative pennants."
Kunkler noted that although it's something that is currently in the ordinance it can be removed and added later if the Planning Commission decides that it is a problem.
Commissioner Barry Weaver said instead of completely striking the prohibition on strings of banners and pennants he would like to see a time limit be placed on how long a particular string of pennants could be hung.
"If they are going to be in good repair then what's the problem with hanging them longer than two weeks or two months?," asked Commissioner Ken Bierlink.
Commissioner Brent Cleghorn said he was afraid that if a time limit wasn't put on how long a string of pennants could be hung, then it's possible those pennants could become a permanent fixture on a building. He noted that once a string of pennants becomes a permanent fixture, it is likely business owners will begin adding other signs to their display.
Hancock said she would like to see strings of banners and pennants removed from the prohibited sign section and restricted to being hung for a month at a time.
Kunkler said since the last Planning Commission meeting he had heard that people in the community would like the board to look at limiting alcohol and tobacco signs from being hung within a certain radius of schools and churches.
"That's content regulation," Kunkler said. He explained that similar ordinances in other cities have been tried in court and it's been found that alcohol and tobacco signs are protected by the First Amendment.
Hancock suggested that instead of regulating content that the commission should be looking at limiting the number of signs buildings and convenience stores can hang. She added that regulating the number of signs a business can have is being addressed through the sign ordinance the commission is working on.
Commissioner De Ann Hochhalter said she would like to see the sign ordinance allow banners that are mounted and framed on a building. She noted that she thinks that those banners, which tend to serve more as permanent signs, are usually attractive.
Kunkler said that perhaps the next time the Planning Commission meets to discuss the sign ordinance he will bring in pictures that illustrate some of the restrictions being proposed in the ordinance. Commissioner Barry Weaver asked Hochhalter to work with Kunkler to bring in a picture of a framed and mounted banner so everyone on the commission will be able to visualize the concept.
During their meeting, the commissioners and Kunkler also took time to go through the ordinance, page by page, to note small typos and several changes as to how long certain types of signs can be hung. One of the changes made during last night's meeting dealt with how long before a community event is held can signs be hung up advertising it. Last time the commission met, the time frame was set as two weeks before an event, but Wednesday the commission changed that to six weeks before an event.
The Planning Commission will take another look at the sign ordinance during its next meeting set to take place Wednesday, June 8.