While some town councilmembers said they are reluctant to change the current policy, in light of the current economic conditions they are willing to consider changes that might benefit local businesses.
The nine-member Temporary Signage Task Force was formed after a Sept. 16 town council work session where members of the RACC Board of Directors said many business owners wanted to be able to use temporary signs for advertising purposes. Since the task force was formed, it has met twice and drafted recommendations to town council for its review.
Town Manager Greg Clifton, who sits on the task force with councilmembers John Clark and Eric Johnson as well as one Ridgway Planning Commissioner member, one RACC member and one non-RACC member, said the group has had two productive meeting. The group is recommending that businesses be allowed to erect temporary signs as long as they are displayed in a manner that does not create a nuisance and are taken down during non- business hours. Furthermore, the signs should have an aggregate face of no more than three square feet in the Residential and Historic Residential Zoning districts and 16 square feet in all other zoning districts.
Clark noted that many businesses are already in non-compliance with the town’s existing temporary signage ordinance. If the ordinance is revised, the gesture may bring future compliance from those business owners, he suggested.
“I feel like, essentially, we are bending over backwards to make changes to the sign code on top of what we have already done to give the business community more leeway,” Clark said during the Monday’s meeting. “I guess my take on it is people have been doing it anyway, we might as well make it legal and try to get some buy-in on the business front. I think we are doing a good effort in trying to listen to the business community. I think it has been a good process. We are making some changes in other economic times we wouldn’t be making.”
Johnson agreed, expressing hope that businesses would comply with the regulations of a changed ordinance..
“If code enforcement comes up and says a sign is out of compliance, they should fix it rather than argue about it,” Johnson said, adding that the debate on whether or not to allow temporary signage is not complete and that he would like to hear from the entire Ridgway community – not just RACC members – before a final decision is made. “I would like to hear from the public and their opinion on it as well. We still need to get more information. I don’t want to do this hastily.”
And while the two task force meetings did garner recommendations to town council, there was some disappointment that no RACC members attended the second, Nov. 16, sign task force meeting.
“The fact that the chamber didn’t show up to the second meeting is rather irritating,” Councilmember Rick Weaver said. “I feel like letting them know that they should have been there. It is an example of them not having their act together.”
Weaver reiterated Johnson’s desire to hear from other community members before a decision is made. “I also think it is important that the non-business people chime in on it.”
Council directed staff to begin drafting ordinance changes. They could be introduced to council at its Jan. 13 meeting for further discussion.
“I think where we are going is good,” Mayor Pat Willits said, closing the discussion. “I applaud you all for taking the time with this.”