2018-02-08 / News

Planners schedule public hearing of sign update

By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC TWP. — Following several months of discussion, the township planning commission and consultant Giffels Webster came to agreement for a draft update of the current sign ordinance which includes changes demanded by legislation and review of recent applications.

Additionally, much discussions was held on temporary signs as both a response to the proliferation of this type and case law. It was also brought up that perhaps utility flags could be considered as temporary signs when they are left in the road right-of-way, sometimes for months following a project.

One of the suggested changes will include clarification that sign area is measured without regard to the opacity, or transparency of the sign—and is meant to address ‘window cling’ type signs which cover much of the frontage of some businesses.

These and other temporary signs may not exceed 25 percent of the total window area. New planning director Mark Lloyd said he spoke to Township Police Chief Wiles and said in addition to this being an aesthetic issue, from a law enforcement standpoint, it is a safety factor allowing them to see into a business in case of a hold-up or other alarm.

In a case which made it all the way to the Supreme Court under free speech rights, sign ordinance across the country have been updating their ordinances to exclude content as a part or how ordinances are enforced. The new updated requirements apply equally based on type of building and district without regard to content.

Signs specific to Technology Village (TV) were incorporated into the ordinance, specifically projecting or blade signs which are pertinent to pedestrian traffic and when they are allowed.

Aside from TV, businesses who might be in a strip mall type setting with multiple entities are allowed more wall signage, instead of blade signs, because they are not specifically pedestrian oriented, as TV is designed to be.

Giffels-Webster consultant Jill Bahm said it’s not atypical to have specific sings for certain types of areas.

“Historically we haven’t had projecting signs….generally speaking as they are signs primarily geared for a pedestrian environment.”

Bahm added they are typically locate under an awning and not meant to be visible to people who are driving by but is an option to help people who are walking through a shopping center to see the business they are looking for.

Trustee Al Mansour, the township board rep to the planning commission said he was not in favor of carving out a specific type of sign for one area versus others, but Bahm and Lloyd assured him this was a typical use and also helps establish additional character of certain areas.

Commissioner Ed Brown said he found it typical in his experience for certain developments to have certain types of signs specific to their sites as well.

It was also discussed if there might be an exception for larger developments such as subdivisions which are limited to 32 square feet. Commissioner John Horcha argued and others said it has been suggested there is a move to allow for greater square footage of a sign depending on the size of a development, citing Security Credit Union as an example.

Horcha mentioned as an example a boulevard entrance which has two sides which would technically mean two signs. Bahm said the ordinance currently allows only one, such as the S. Saginaw entrance of the Captain’s Club at Woodfield.

Horcha said the sign is really not that big when being seen by a car driving past. They also discussed the new trend of ‘tube lighting’ and hope to add that to the ordinance which doesn't currently address these types specifically.

Electronic signs and their usage was also addressed. The board agreed to set the public hearing for review of the changes to be held at 7 p.m. on March 1.

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