Highland News Leader

Highland City Council strikes down planned restrictions on promotional banners, flags

Highland News Leader

The Highland News Leader serves readers in Highland.
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The Highland News Leader serves readers in Highland.

A city plan to restrict businesses’ promotional signs was struck down by Highland’s City Council at a recent meeting.

While the city and Planning and Zoning commission recommended the ordinance amendment that would have restricted the amount of promotional business signage like banners and inflatables and the amount of time they could remain up.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Breann Speraneo said the city had begun working toward restricting the use of banners, inflatable advertisements, feather flags and other signs because in many cases they were being abused throughout town.

Speraneo said in order for the flags to allowed and regulated, the term feather flags needs to be added to the existing code. She said the time limits were important when crafting the plan because often signs are left up year round and become tattered and worn.

In some cases, she added, advertisements describing promotional sales are left up far past the end of promotions.

“When we’re allowing them to leave them up year around many of them become weathered and tattered and not in the shape we would want signage to be in,” Speraneo said.

The restrictions would have required making an amendment to the city’s zoning code and would have established requirements for special promotional signs. Additionally, the city sought to add a definition for “feather flags” to the existing code so they could also be regulated.

Feather flags are a type of advertisement that resembles a feather and sticks up straight from the ground. While technically disallowed by existing code, feather flags with commercial advertising can be found throughout the city.

In the city’s report to the council, feather flags at several local businesses, including Quiznos, Cricket Wireless and Krispy Krunchy Chicken were shown as examples. Frey said those flags were nowhere near the road and deep into private property.

Under the city’s proposal any business who wants to use signs, banners, inflatable items or feather flags for promotional activities must apply for a permit allowing the use of the advertisements for no more than 10 days. The businesses also would only be able to use the banners three times a year.

However, Councilman Rick Frey said restricting the use of these banners would only hurt small businesses who need that sort of advertising.

“Personally, I feel like we’re penalizing small businesses because that’s the type of stuff they use,” Frey said. “We have electronic signs that are flashing 25 messages a day 7 days a week 24 hours a day and they’re not paying permits on that.”

Councilman Aaron Schwarz agreed and said he worried about creating more red tape for local businesses and having to tell businesses what looks “weathered” and what doesn’t.

“We say we try to be business friendly, I think the best way we can be business friendly is by minimizing red tape,” he said.

Speraneo said the intent of the permits wouldn’t be to punish small businesses, but rather to keep use of the flags under control.

“We don’t want to penalize our smaller businesses who can’t afford flashy signs and are already using them accordingly,” she said. “Our thinking with this was how do we limit (the signs) and how, unfortunately, do we penalize them to make it a blanket statement.”

A specific dollar amount had not been determined for the permits, but Speraneo said the could would have only been enough to cover enforcement expenses. That fee would need approval from the city council as well.

The council unanimously voted the measure down but said feather flags and the existing code ordinance on addition advertisement should be reviewed.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.

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