4/8/2014 10:41:00 AM Downtown businesses required to limit window signage after code revision
Sandy Jensen of the Turquoise Tepee expresses her concerns about the city's sign code at a March 27 public hearing. The council went on to approve the revised sign code at the meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - A revised city sign code is now in effect that limits window signage to 25 percent of a window's area instead of the previous 50 percent.
The changes came after the Williams City Council put on a third public hearing and approved the revisions to the code at its March 27 meeting.
The code contains newly added purpose and definitions sections, as well as an I-40 overlay section and one about electronic message center signs.
The Historic Preservation Commission approved the revisions at a March 11 meeting and the Planning and Zoning Commission approved them at a March 20 meeting.
During the public hearing portion of the council meeting, three people spoke in opposition to some of the elements in the revised code.
Jeremy Hassen, with Addicted to Route 66, called parts of the plan over-reaching, specifically the part restricting window signage to 25 percent of a store's window.
"With the economy being what it is businesses should have the ability to advertise in their windows," he said.
Hassen added that the restriction could be detrimental to new businesses.
"I'm just looking out for future people trying to come into this town and trying to start a business," he said. "You don't want to handicap them, and that's what this does in my estimation."
Hassen also said that the city does not enforce the existing sign code.
"It does not make any sense whatsoever to make more restrictions on something when you don't even have the enforcement right now," he said.
Leah Jensen Bowden asked the council to revise the 25 percent window signage rule within the code, calling it unacceptable.
"The expanding of what we can and can not do in our windows-that is not for you to decide. That is for us to decide what goes on the inside of our windows. That is how we survive," she said. "You have people that are coming in that need the freedom to do business."
Another member of the public opposed the portion of the code about electronic message center signs (EMC). The code defines them as signs that are "capable of displaying words, symbols, figures, or images that can be electronically changed by remote or automatic means," and prohibits them in the Historic Overlay District, except inside windows up to six square feet. The code also states "flashing, revolving, moving, rotating, or similar intermittent lights are prohibited on EMC signs."
Sandy Jensen of the Turquoise Tepee said historically Route 66 has embraced flashing and moving signs.
"I think our council needs to think back to what Route 66 really is and release some of these over restrictive rules that we are stuck with," she said. "It seems like right now we're out trying to destroy the character of our town instead of trying to preserve it."
After hearing the public comments, Mayor John Moore told the audience that a five person sign committee had spent about six months working on the revisions, and that the public was invited to participate in the committee.
"This hasn't been done without a lot of people looking at it," he said.
After a few clarifications about the code, the council unanimously approved the revisions.