FROM THE SEPT. 4, 2019 ISSUE:
Mountain View City Council is considering an amendment to the existing sign ordinance that would ban billboards within the city limits and require that existing ones be removed if they become unsightly or unsafe.
The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed at its August meeting to recommend the proposed ordinance that would enact the stricter regulations and Planning and Zoning Officer Rex Vannatter presented it to the council Aug. 24. The proposal also amends other sign regulations and adds penalties and other language regarding enforcement.
Vannatter said he has fielded numerous complaints about all the billboards and signs in Mountain View, including a new large sign under construction at the junction of Hwy. 9-5-14 in town. He said the city needs an ordinance that has “cut and dried rules on billboards.” He estimated that more than half of cities in Arkansas already prohibit billboards.
Councilman J.K. Williams said, “We promote old-time stuff and a town full of billboards ain’t old time stuff.”
Councilman Bruce Stevens said he hated to tell people what they could and couldn’t do with their own land.
Williams said the city has a responsibility “to be what we’re promoting” and to assure safety, as well. Council members had discussed whether eight feet of clearance below signs was sufficient and agreed to change the requirement to 10 feet to assure visibility.
In discussing clarification for other commercial signs, Vannatter noted that current regulations limit signs affixed to buildings to 20 percent of the wall surface and the council discussed if that would include quilt block designs and murals. Vannatter said that quilt blocks would not be considered advertising, but should go before the commission for approval.
Williams made a motion to accept the proposed ordinance then withdrew his motion stating the council could vote on the matter at the next meeting.
City Clerk Peggy Lancaster added that since the council has the ordinance to review, the council may approve it simply by waiving all readings.
The proposed ordinance under consideration by the Mountain View City Council prohibits placement of billboards anywhere within the city limits. Billboards legally existing at the time the ordinance is adopted may remain until they become unsightly or unsafe, and at that time the billboard is to be removed within 60 days.
Any sign face not currently rented must be covered with a white banner material within 60 days of expiration of rental agreement.
Proposed regulations on free-standing signs allow one sign per lot or commercial street frontage, with signs at least 10 feet from edge of street and with at least 10 feet of visual clearance and limited to 100 square feet per side. Height is restricted to 25 feet or the height of the building, whichever is less.
Off-premise signs are allowed on unoccupied lots fronting state or federal highways in most commercial zones. They are restricted to 32 square feet per side and are not allowed within 50 feet of an adjoining residential district.
The proposed ordinance also adds a penalty of $25 per day for violation if the person responsible for a sign does not bring it into compliance within 30 days of written notice.
Existing billboards that do not conform to regulations would be allowed to remain under the terms of the permits for such signs, but could not be replaced if they were damaged to an extent beyond one-half of the current replacement cost.