Friday, September 13, 2013

P&Z says ‘no’ again to electronic signs

Panel rejects proposed information overlay district


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

    The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday not to recommend two proposed ordinances, supported by the Hailey City Council, that would allow electronic messaging signs on specific sites at the north and south ends of the city.
    The P&Z voted no “emphatically” last month to a proposed ordinance that would allow large text-messaging signs to city property for the purpose of providing public information.
    The City Council remanded the proposed ordinance to the P&Z, along with a proposed ordinance that would establish an “Information Overlay District” that would limit the signs to specific locations on city property.
    Three locations proposed by the council for the signs are: at the north end of town across the highway from  Albertson’s grocery store, at the skatepark, and at the junction of Fox Acres Road and Highway 75 beside O’Reilly’s auto parts store (now under construction).
    Community Development Director Micah Austin said Monday that the Hailey Arts Commission has been eyeing the southernmost site, near O’Reilly’s, for a non-electronic “Welcome to Hailey” sign for more than a year.
    “They said it would be a sign with ‘rustic elegance,’” Austin said.
    The proposed electronic signs would incorporate red lighted text, similar to text on a sign used at the Wood River Community YMCA on Warm Springs Road in Ketchum, but with letters more than twice as tall.
    Under the proposed ordinance, the signs would be used only for public information, but could also include announcements for the Wood River High School and other city events.
    The first draft of the ordinance was written, several months ago, after the Hailey Middle School requested to install an electronic sign in front of its campus.
    P&Z Commissioner Geoffrey Moore, Hailey resident Peter Lobb and others rejected the ordinance because it would have allowed electronic signs in residential zones.
    “I think they are tacky,” Lobb said at the meeting.
    But the Hailey City Council, led by Mayor Fritz Haemmerle, decided to test public opinion on whether Hailey residents would like the city to install electronic signs at the north and south entrances to town on Highway 75.
    The council installed a temporary electronic sign near the skatepark and gathered 21 public comments, 10 against and eleven in favor of the signs.
    Mayor Haemmerle’s wife voted in favor of the signs, which caught the attention of the P&Z Commission.
    “That vote should be disqualified,” said Commissioner Regina Korby.
    The P&Z Commission voted 3-1 to reject the proposed signs Monday.
    “I don’t think they fit in with our city,” said Commissioner Owen Scanlon.
    Only P&Z Commissioner Jay Cone voted in support of the proposed ordinances, saying that the City Council would likely overrule the P&Z recommendation.
    Cone recommended going along with the council’s intentions, perhaps tweaking the ordinances to suit the P&Z’s taste.
    “At least we would then have a say in what happens,” he said.


    In other Hailey news:

  • l The Hailey P&Z voted to recommend the Hailey Urban Renewal Agency’s Gateway District.
  • l The Hailey P&Z voted to not vacate to developer Charlie Holt two 20-foot-wide sections of city right of way on either side of Cedar Street.    

Tony Evans:  tevans@mtexpress.com




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