STEVENSVILLE — Lincoln Township is one board meeting away from adding a sign ordinance into its charter after four years of meetings, discussions and rewrites. A vote is expected at the Oct. 8 meeting.
Planners first held a public hearing in December 2015 to consider amending regulations for signs within the zoning ordinance along the Red Arrow Highway corridor.
The intent of the ordinance’s amendment was to have businesses install monument signs in the community, as opposed to the tall expressway signs that can be seen from I-94. The ordinance would reduce and potentially eliminate tall signs along Red Arrow over time.
However, the ordinance has been mired in confusing language and backlash from business owners.
Supervisor Dick Stauffer said the turning point for the ordinance came in April 2018, when a joint meeting between the township’s board and planning commission got feedback from business owners.
“Coming out of that meeting, we realized business people felt that was too harsh and unreasonable,” Stauffer said. “So, we dropped the original concept of setting a date. Instead it focused on when a sign must comply with a new ordinance.”
Stauffer said one of the main changes to the ordinance is that a pole sign would have to be replaced with a monument sign if it sustains more than 50 percent damage.
Stauffer said there were also talks about the structure of the signs.
“If (the signs) are changed, altered or enlarged, they would have to comply with the ordinance,” he said. “If you reconstruct the sign, it would have to be a monument one.”
Another hold-up in getting approval has been the amount of dialogue between the township’s attorney and the planning commission.
“A lot went into the language,” said Charlie Olszewski, who joined the planning commission four years ago. “There’s no time period for them to get those signs. The devil is in the details and you have to get it right. It took a lot of work, but we finally got it.”
According to Olszewski, the process could be traced back to 2008, when township officials chose to add the intention of removing pole signs in its master plan.
While that hasn’t happened completely and no timeframe has been set, the first reading was approved unanimously in the Sept. 10 board meeting.
The amendment has seen its share of edits, with the final version showcasing about 75 lines of revisions from prior drafts.
Only Olszewski knows how many drafts of the ordinance there are.
“There were even more drafts than the 10 versions I submitted,” he said. “It cannot be overstated that without the business owners talking with us, this could have gone another way. They gave us reasons why this would have been troublesome for them.”
Businesses that have already installed monument signs in the township include the Tyler Honda dealership, McDonald’s, BP and Mobil gas stations.
The proposed change to the ordinance would require incoming businesses to install the monument signs in the community.
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