CAREFREE – With Councilman Bob Gemmill recusing himself, Town Administrator/Planning Director Gary Neiss and Assistant Planner DJ Stapley presented text amendments to the sign ordinance during the Jan. 5 town council meeting.

Councilman Bob Coady questioned whether specific width and height dimensions for some signs were too restrictive and asked whether it wouldn’t be better to have a maximum number of square feet.

Councilman Peter Koteas was concerned over tenant directory signs being limited to buildings with five or more tenants.

However, responding to Vice Mayor Glenn Miller’s question, Neiss stated the directory signs were in addition to, not in lieu of, individual tenant’s signs.

Stapley showed pictures of signs that would not be allowed, using some examples in Cave Creek, such as a directory on a “monument sign,” stating only the name of the complex is allowed on monument signs.

He said they were recommending a 60-day transition period for tenants to modify their signs.

Neiss clarified that existing signs were fine but any changes would need to comply with the new ordinance.

“We feel these signs are more aesthetically pleasing,” said Neiss, adding it would eliminate A-frame/sidewalk signs.

Councilman Doug Stavoe asked if the ordinance pertaining to A-frame signs could be suspended during special events.

Neiss said it would not be enforced during special events and there would be no fee to shop owners for the temporary signs.

Koteas asked how many merchants attended meetings when the new ordinance was being discusses.

Neiss said attendance by merchants was sparce – one or two business owners.

Stavoe asked, “If someone wants to have a sign that’s not allowed, would they go through the variance process?”

Neiss explained that a variance must meet statutory requirements and could not be self imposed.

During public comment, John Packham, government affairs director for the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, asked to increase the number of directional “Open House” signs at intersections by two more directional signs and said, “We’re not asking to go crazy.”

Packham stated Scottsdale amended its sign ordinance to allow for as many signs as needed so long as a directional change is required.

Neiss said Carefree is not on a grid and has curvilinear streets, adding, “The quicker a house sells the quicker the signs are gone.”

The current ordinance allows for a total of three directional signs, including one at the residence.

Council agreed to amend the ordinance to allow for two additional directional signs.
Responding to whether signs can remain overnight, Neiss said the signs can only remain out while the agent is at the property.

Gary Hayward wanted to know whose liability it was if a person tripped and fell over an A-frame sign.

The ordinance also addressed flags, which states they must be taken down at night since it does not allow for upward lighting that causes light pollution.

As council was getting ready to vote on the amendments, Town Clerk Betsy Wise interrupted to say, “Excuse me. This is not an action item but a discussion item.”

After some further discussion on the ordinance, Wise stated, “Our attorney just said because this is a text amendment it qualifies for an action item.”

Regarding the change to total square feet, instead of width and height dimensions, Councilwoman Susan Vanik said she liked the more uniform dimensions that were more in keeping with the “village look.”

Council voted unanimously (with Gemmill recused) in favor of the amendments including the change allowing two more “Open House” signs.

Since the new ordinance would not go into effect for 30 days, Neiss suggested extending the moratorium expiration date to coincide with that date.