Council vote on sign code delayed - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Council vote on sign code delayed

Legal issues about real estate signs create roadblock

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Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:19 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

After more than a year of study and debate, a proposal for a comprehensive rewrite of the Oro Valley sign code has been completed.

The proposal awaits town council approval before it can be implemented. Although originally scheduled for the Sept. 15 council meeting, final approval has been pushed back until at least November.

At a Sept. 8 council study session, council members expressed concerns over the scope of the reforms, which extend over portions of the 58-page code.

Council members Steve Solomon and Joe Hornat suggested the council debate the proposed changes line-by-line during a public meeting.

In addition to the significance of the changes, the council discussed a possible conflict with the limitations placed on open house and other real estate signs.

At issue were the stipulated display hours of open house signs. The proposal suggests the signs could only be displayed on Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The current code allows open house signs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

The updated code also would require the signs to be set back 10 feet from paved roadways.

Town Attorney Tobin Rosen said issue could present conflicts for the town.

"If you allow one type of sign, you shouldn't disallow another type of sign based on its content," Rosen said.

The town allows other types of temporary signage, but without the same restrictions on days and times of usage.

In the meantime, the council intends to hold two study sessions on the code rewrite. Those meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 13 and Wednesday, Oct. 27.

The proposed changes to the code impacts nearly all aspects of the town's extensive raft of sign regulations.

"It was a consensus conclusion," said Oro Valley resident Zev Cywan, who sat on the task force impaneled to write the recommendation.

Despite the controversies inherent in the sign code issue, Cywan said the task force worked well together.

"I think everyone assumed that when the task force was formed there would be lots of contentiousness — there wasn't," Cywan said.

The issue of business sign illumination issue arose in August 2009. At stake was when local businesses were required to switch off the lights of their signs. Many in the local business community, led by the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, had lobbied to allow for all-night illumination.

The task force's proposal allows for such signs to be turned on at 5 a.m. and remain alight until 11 p.m. or until a business closes for the day.

"The business community did not come away able to say we got everything we wanted," said Ramon Gaanderse, executive director of the chamber. Gaanderse also sat on the task force. He said his views did not necessarily represent those of the chamber's board.

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