Dust off the boxing gloves
Council to pound sign ordinance, again
By Tracy L. Brady
Members of the Madison City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission may soon have an ugly rematch on their hands.
Councilman David Buschmann recently reintroduced the much-debated topic of a new city sign ordinance after the issue was indefinitely postponed last August. He said even though the last attempt was "ugly and difficult", the city is in need of a valid and enforceable sign ordinance.
"I know I've opened a can of worms," Buschmann said.
Last year, the Planning and Zoning Commission presented the council with a proposed ordinance that would make Madison's regulation of signs constitutional while achieving content neutrality. An onslaught of concerns from the Madison business community caused the ordinance to be tabled by the council for reexamination. The ordinance was postponed indefinitely when Community Development Director Bob Atallo cautioned the council that passing a new sign ordinance would repeal existing regulations, leaving the city without any ordinance to govern temporary signs.
"We took a shot at it and failed," Councilman Jim Reagan said. "Let's let sleeping dogs lie."
Currently, both permanent and temporary signs are under the same 1991 ordinance. The council, in conjunction with Atallo and City Attorney Anne-Marie Lacy, hoped to reintroduce the issue as two separate ordinances.
Atallo concurred with Buschmann that the current ordinance is not enforceable, but reminded the council that certain privileges the community has enjoyed through the 11-year-old sign ordinance will be removed or restricted due to the many changes that have occurred since its implementation.
"Do I think it (the ordinance) should be changed?" Atallo said. "Yes, I do. But I don't see how it couldn't be just as ugly."
Atallo also forewarned the council that a new ordinance had no guarantee of being "bulletproof."
After Councilman Bob Wagner requested time to consider the "out of the blue" sign ordinance issue.
Council President Cynthia McCollum ended the discussion by scheduling the issue to be discussed further no more than two meetings from May 13.
"Sometimes we make very unpopular decisions," McCollum said. "But we need to do what's best for the city."
In other business, the council:
* Rescheduled the May 27 (Memorial Day) council meeting for Tuesday, May 28.
* Rejected bids to build a pool house for the proposed outdoor swimming pool at Dublin Park because bids were significantly higher than the city could afford. The Engineering Department will modify specifications for the project and rebid later this summer.
* Rescheduled the public hearing on the downtown redevelopment incentive zoning changes to June 24. The public hearing will be advertised again.
* Recognized the Madison Chamber of Commerce Youth Council for its 20011-02 service.
* Recognized Madison Police Officer Steve Wilkerson for being named Optimist Club Officer of the Year.
* Was recognized by the Bob Jones High School Softball Program for its continued support of the annual BJHS Softball Invitational.
* Announced six openings on the Beautification Board.