After many Kerrville residents expressed concerns over the newly rewritten sign code, Kerrville City Council voted 4 to 1 to pass the code’s first reading at Tuesday’s meeting with one exception: Electronic sign messages must maintain an eight-second display time.

Council member Kim Clarkson was the disapproving vote; she said that she supports the code rewrite, but there were too many aspects of it that she wants to see addressed or changed for her to accept it at this time.

The code rewrite process began in October 2018 with a 15-member Code Review Committee. The goal of the project was to make the code clearer to eliminate any confusion for those using it. 

Cory Traub, a sign business owner, said this goal was not accomplished.

“It’s harder to read now than what it was,” Traub said. “My question is, what was the point of wasting all of these committee members’ time and effort, not to mention the cost of it, to end up with the same ordinance we had before, with more convoluted language?”

Traub added that he is worried the code won’t be enforced equally, with an electronic Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce sign that was allowed, in error, to stand, even though it doesn’t fit regulations. After finding the error, the sign was still allowed to stand if only a part of it was turned on.

Kerrville resident William Rector said he feels the code is fair.

“Business friendly, in my book, is a city that has clear, concise and easy-to-understand rules that are equally applied to everybody,” Rector said. “The mayor asked for a business-friendly piece of legislation, and I believe what we’re adopting is just that.”

Many at the meeting, including Rector, said they were concerned about the affect electronic signs would have on light pollution.

“We must make sure (the code) is dark-sky friendly,” Rector said. “How many of us grew up in Kerrville and looked up at the night and saw millions of specks of light making up the Milky Way?”

For monument and freestanding electronic signs, including billboards, the code calls for a maximum of 32 square feet of electronic signage. They would be allowed only if they were within 100 feet and visible from a major thoroughfare or highway. The code would require electronic signs to have an automatic dimmer that turns the sign darker when the sky is darker, said Drew Paxton, executive director of development services.

Freestanding signs, electronic displays and feather signs would not be allowed within the Downtown Arts and Culture District, which includes the downtown core and surrounding areas.

One issue that wasn’t resolved was how the code allows electronic signs to be framed. 

The rewritten code reads that the signs would be required to have six inches of framing on all sides, but Paxton said he wanted to bring the subject to council, since it is ultimately an aesthetic issue. 

That concerned a Kerrville resident and former city councilman George Baroody.

“It’s personal preference,” Baroody said. “Is that really something that we should be legislating anyways? Consider removing it, and let the signs be what they are.”

Mayor Bill Blackburn said he hopes to have these issues addressed before the second and final reading of the new code.

 

BUDGET & TAX RATE APPROVED

The council also approved the fiscal year 2020 budget and tax rate — $0.54 per $100 of property valuation, which will bring an increase in tax revenue compared to last year — and a planned development district near Holdsworth Drive.

 

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(5) comments

bruno1

The sign deal is signed, but not without controversy. While all 4 council members questioned the passing of this new sign ordinance(law), voicing a desire to postpone voting until further discussions were held to understand, & modify some of the newly added harsh restrictions. Council member Clarkson admitted some of the changes were only brought up just before regular council meeting. I can only assume she was talking about the private council meeting held at 4pm just before the public meeting at 6pm where the public is not allowed. She stated she didn't have time to fully vet some of the restrictions in the Ordinance & was not ready to vote it into law. However, Blackburn ignored her request & called for a vote anyway in which he & Eychner voted for it. The motion failed 2 to 3. Looking perplexed, Blackburn questioned Segerman concerning her vote, he couldn't believe she didn't fall in line & vote with him. He then looked at his handlers, McDaniel & Hayes, got his instructions, & offered another motion to limit digital sign display messages to 8 seconds rather than the 4 seconds as recommended by the selected sign committee. (The reason a digital sign is displayed for 4 seconds rather than 8 is studies conducted on timing have determined that the longer a sign is displayed the longer a driver is distracted which could lead to more accidents by having to concentrate on the sign twice as long. But this meant nothing to Blackburn & Crew; to heck with the experts and the sign committee, Dr. Rector & the Caillouxs want to rid Kerrville of every sign except theirs, and they want 8 second display. (You gotta dance with who brung you and paid for you). Soon we may see the Green sign on I-10 saying welcome to Caillouxville Tx. Population: It doesn't matter!

Mary Lou Shelton

a little confused by your response. the research I found demonstrated that the more often the sign was changed, the more distracting. the longer the message was displayed, the less distraction. moving things catch the eye much easier than static things. so the more often the message changes, the more often a person will look at it. so blackburn and crew were correct, and I am curious as to where the sign experts on the committee got their information.

overall, digital signs, irrespective of how long the message was displayed, were associated with more wrecks. so if you want to follow the implications of the research, block all digital signs. gene

bruno1

Gene, you sound very confused by your response to my response. Where did you get the research you are quoting? Signs do not cause wrecks, just like guns don't kill people; people do. Drivers are encouraged to constantly observe their surrounding environment because signs are used to direct traffic as well as advertise businesses. I'm betting you have no basis to back your statement that digital signs are associated with more wrecks.

Mary Lou Shelton

all you have to do is google the info.



and your response bout signs not causing wrecks has nothing to do with my post.



I simply said you were in error about long messages holding attention. that's all. nothing confusing about that. gene

Mary Lou Shelton

bruno, i wont even go into the research about rapidly changing light colors catching the attention more than non changing or slow changing ones. the reason the advertisers, starting back in the days of neon signs, is that all the research pointed to that conclusion. that was my primary disagreement with your statement.



as to more wrecks: I will try to post a link, but in the recent past, links have not popped up for some reason. there is some research that shows that digital direction signs or message signs (like wreck ahead) on busy freeways/interstates dont cause more wrecks. but think about it, they are displaying a message, usually right over the freeway without multicolored lights, that is not rapidly changing, and that often occurs when traffic was slowed. several studies were misinterpreted, probably deliberately. for example, in one study they compared a section of interstate with a sign to one without. they found that in the 4 year period, wrecks decreased in both areas. they concluded the sign made no difference. they failed to report that the wrecks did not go down as much on the signed portion as the non-signed portion.



I found studies conducted in Sweden, Fla, Al. and Calif all demonstrating increased wrecks on roads where brightly colored signs were displayed. some of the research is quite old. but you might want to check out scenic.org/storage/downloads/fha.pdf. which came out of the office of research of the Federal Highway Dept, and a summary of some studies contains in www.lawrencevillage.orgdocument.



l will go on to say that your original post was reeking of sarcasm and disdain because you disagreed with the outcome of the decision. let me next say that since you made the original claim that changing messages every 4 seconds is less distracting than changing every 8 seconds, the burden of proof is on you to prove it.

and again, why the ridiculous nonsense about signs not causing wrecks. by the same token, poorly designed or badly in need of repair highways dont cause wrecks, inadequate lighting doesn't cause wrecks, and on and on ad-ridiculium. what tiresome illogic. gene

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