BY LINDA BENTLEY | JANUARY 11, 2012
Carefree extends sign moratorium through December 2012
Schwan told business owners, ‘I think you need some tough love. People … want a quality community and A-frame signs are not quality.’
Photo by Linda Bentley
CAREFREE – Several business owners showed up for Tuesday’s council meeting to express their desire to continue the moratorium that allows them to use A-frame signs, which are otherwise prohibited by the town’s sign ordinance.
Councilman Jim Van Allen said he hoped council had the appetite to listen to the business owners present, who said they had no idea the subject was going to be on Tuesday night’s agenda.
Mayor David Schwan said the town sent out three e-mails in addition to the regular posting to notice the meeting and was sorry if business owners don’t read their e-mails.
Councilman Marty Saltzman stated, “We’re not putting a restriction on existing rights. The ordinance bans A-frame signs,” and said the purpose of the moratorium to was to give businesses a transition period.
He said, “If we don’t approve this, A-frame signs go away.”
Town Administrator Gary Neiss said in creating the ordinance, the town was faced with a balancing act between businesses and aesthetics.
While Councilman Arthur Gimson referred to A-Frame signs as “tacky,” Councilman Mike Farrar said the “plethora of signs as you come into Carefree is the objectionable part” and the purpose of the moratorium was to give tenants time to negotiate with their landlords.
During public comment, Sue Bikerdyke, who has been a Carefree business owner for 17 years, said she found it objectionable that the town subsidized signs to promote only businesses in the town core.
However, Councilman Glenn Miller said the town did not subsidize those signs and explained the town only fronted the money for the signs and businesses paid to have their names placed on the signs, which reimbursed the town.
Bickerdyke then said her business is in the Basha’s shopping center, which has 20 businesses. However, the monument sign ordinance only allows for five business names to be placed on monument signs. She said, “It doesn’t work.”
Another business owner indicated the building where she was leasing was bank owned, which made negotiating with her landlord difficult.
Al Swanson said the unsightliness of the A-frame signs is the quantity and haphazard manner they’re placed along the road. He suggested they be placed 25 feet apart and be placed parallel with the street.
He also said, “Monument signs, after 60 days, blend into the scenery.”
Although council voted unanimously (with Vice Mayor Melissa Price abstaining) in favor of continuing the moratorium, they made a couple of changes from the first reading of the ordinance.
Last month, council agreed to limit A-frame signs to be located no more than 30 feet from the business and extended the moratorium through May 2013.
After hearing from various business owners about how important the A-frame signs were to their businesses and, in many cases, the 30-foot restriction placed their signs in parking lots or other locations that rendered them useless, council passed the ordinance without the 30-foot requirement and shortened the length of time of moratorium so it would sunset Dec. 31, 2012.
Originally, council set the sunset date of the moratorium to take businesses to the end of the busy season, but Farrar stated, “We’ve had a transition period for a year and nothing’s changed.”
Saltzman said he believed shortening the moratorium would give business owners the impetus to work with their landlords and seek solutions.
However, Schwan told business owners, “I think you need some tough love. People say they want a quality community and A-frame signs are not quality.”
He said the ordinance would also be enforced this time around, whereas A-frame signs must be placed on private property rather than in the public right-of-way and they must be removed at the close of business each day.