Albany planning commissioners discuss revisions to a controversial sign ordinance Thursday. The Board recommended that the Albany City Commission adopt all but one of the revisions discussed.
ALBANY — The Albany Planning Commission recommended city leaders adopt most of what City Manager James Taylor called Phase 1 of revisions to the city’s controversial sign ordinance Thursday.
City staff presented the revisions to the Planning Commission at the request of Taylor, who, along with a sign ordinance task force, had been reviewing the much-maligned ordinance for the last several months.
“This is just the beginning,” Taylor said. “I’d like to consider this Phase 1 of the revisions, with many more to come as we work with business owners and the public to get an ordinance that is feasible.”
Most of the recommendations heard Thursday by the Planning Commission sailed through the body: a change to allow LED signs for businesses to alternate messages every 30 seconds rather than every minute; the extension of the ordinance to vendors who participate in special events; the establishment of an application process for reconsideration of non-conforming signs; and prohibition of roof signs.
But one revision dominated the conversation and sparked nearly two hours worth of debate among commissioners: flagpoles.
The current sign ordinance limits the number of flagpoles that a business can have on its property to one for every legal lot.
The concern arose after the Boy Scouts of America wanted to put three poles onto property it’s using and, because the ordinance doesn’t allow it, was denied.
Staff’s recommendation was to keep the ordinance as is to avoid the cluttering of flagpoles and because “we just don’t receive complaints about them,” City Building Inspector Tracy Hester said.
But the discussion quickly spread to what would be considered a “legal lot” versus a “business site,” as offered in a motion by Commissioner Art Brown.
“I think we’re opening up a Pandora’s box here,” Commissioner Steven Kaplan said. “I’ve been in real estate a long time, and there are very distinct differences between lots, parcels, sites and the like.”
After lengthy discussion, Commissioner Aaron Johnson moved to keep the ordinance as it’s written — a move which died after being out-voted four to three.
Brown then motioned to table the matter for one month to give staff time to research what language should be included in the ordinance before coming back to the commission for a decision.