Councilrelaxes sign ordinance

Published on Thu, Jul 28, 2005 by eg Olson

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Council relaxes sign ordinance

By Meg Olson

Jason Overstreet has won city council approval for the kind of changes to the Blaine sign ordinance he says he needs to make his business thrive.

The changes will trim the city’s ban on off-site signage downtown, allowing Overstreet to put up a sandwich board on the corner of H and 4th streets and point customers towards his Red, White and Brew coffee stand a block away on Martin Street. They will also allow administrative rather than planning commission approval for perpendicular signs downtown and other minor deviations from the Blaine Design Guidelines and Sign Ordinance Supplement until that document is reviewed and updated in 2006.

“This is very reasonable until we can get into the sign ordinance and revisit it in its entirety,” he told city council when they gave the thumbs up to a preliminary ordinance brought forward by Blaine community development director Terry Galvin at their July 11 meeting.

As the ordinance was adopted after a public hearing June 25, Mary Lee Hill, owner of the Pastime Tavern welcomed the changes to the sign ordinance as a tool for downtown businesses to draw in customers. “We need signs so that people know where we are,” she said.

“My business cannot wait until 2006,” said Overstreet when he urged the city to loosen up sign rules for downtown. “Blaine’s downtown core is simply not a healthy environment. I know government moves slowly but business doesn’t. It’s do or die.” Galvin agreed existing sign regulations may be too restrictive and local businesses needed more marketing leeway. “Let’s loosen it up and see what happens,” he said.

The new ordinance is an interim measure, added city manager Gary Tomsic, until the council has a chance to fully revisit the sign guidelines in early 2006.