By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
Last month, excessive use of banners – especially as permanent signs – throughout city limits was discussed during a city commission meeting. During Tuesday evening’s regular meeting, zoning administrator Steve Guerrero brought a drafted ordinance to commissioners to pass along to a second reading.
Proposed amendments to the new ordinance were:
o All signs which project over any public property in the city shall be erected by a duly licensed contractor.
o No awning or canopy shall have greater projection than eight feet from the street or alley line, and in no case closer than two feet to the plane of any curbline.
o All signs, marquees, awnings or canopies projecting over an alley shall provide a minimum clearance height of 18 feet and projecting over a sidewalk shall provide a minimum clearance of eight feet.
o For banners and temporary promotional business signs, permits are required.
o Sign permits shall be valid for up to two periods specified in increments of not more than 30 days and used within 12 months from the date the banner or temporary promotional business sign is first displayed.
o In no event may such sign be allowed to remain for more than 30 days under the same permit.
o Only one banner or business sign is allowed per period.
Regarding awnings already in place within city limits, Guerrero said they would be grandfathered in and stay as is. However, any new canopies to be placed within the City of Liberal, must adhere to the new ordinance, once it is passed.
In the matter of banners, Vice Mayor Joe Denoyer had an issue with businesses only being able to use banners to promote sales twice a year.
“I understand there is a problem with banners,” Denoyer said. “But, if a store has a sale, they can only use a banner twice a year. I feel that is kind of restrictive if a shoe store or clothing store wants to have a sale and have a banner on a weekend, they can only do it twice a year to promote their sale.”
Commissioner Dave Harrison asked if campaign signs would be under the same ordinance. Guerrero said, no, they would not.
“Unfortunately, campaign signs are exempt,” he said. “This change I am proposing here is to the city code. Campaign signs fall under the zoning ordinance.”
Guerrero informed the commission that banners placed on the bridge joining McDermott Elementary and Mary Frame Park are approved by the Kansas Department of Transportation prior to placement.
Guerrero reminded commissioners this was only a first reading and changes could be made to the ordinance if need be.
“This is the first reading of the ordinance,” he said. “I would like for you to advance it to a second reading. If changes are needed, I would be happy to make those changes based on reasons desired.”
Commissioner Harrison felt it important the public see the ordinance and be able to address the commission regarding concerns.
“If this is going to be advanced to a second reading, let’s do that,” he said. “And, hopefully, we can give the public a chance to look at it.”
Commissioner Bob Carlile and Mayor Tim Long agreed.
“We can let them weigh in,” Long said.
Commissioner Larry Koochel didn’t believe a new ordinance would make a difference considering current signage ordinances aren’t enforced as it is.
“What I don’t understand is how just coming up with a new ordinance this is going to change our enforcement of signs when we have things up and down the streets that we don’t enforce now,” he said. “We didn’t have a problem with banners until recently when people put new businesses in and they put a great big banner up and it never comes down. It is in the south end of town and the north end of town.
“I don’t understand why we let things like that go,” he added. “I don’t think a new ordinance is going to change anything. I would like to see us keep the existing ordinance where you have to have a manufactured sign. I want us to keep main street looking nice with professional signs.”
The commission voted the ordinance to second reading. However, Denoyer and Koochel voted against the second reading.