SIGN language

Those who oppose a proposed ordinance that would increase the size of electronic signs speak to the Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month.

The signs are everywhere that people in Kerrville don’t really like big signs — or electronic signs or the ones that stick out and might hit you on the head.

In fact, one person even told the city of Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission that he didn’t think signs were needed at all in the era of Google maps. Uh …

Yes, we’re a little speechless.

We almost got whiplash from looking to see if we’re in a state that likes to regulate stuff — a lot. In total 16, speakers at the recent planning and zoning meeting spoke out against allowing business owners — on private property — to enhance their digital offerings. Just two speakers, including Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Walt Koenig, spoke out in favor of the signs.

At the end of the meeting, the commission made some amendments to a sign policy that would limit the square footage of electronic signs. The voices were unanimous in their disdain for the rise of electronic signs, which increasingly are becoming a cheaper way to advertise business, but many locally believe could compromise the small-town charm of our community.

The proposed ordinance is careful not to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of the sign owners, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment could muddy the decision. In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court overturned years of precedent by allowing property owners to go directly to federal courts in disputes with local municipalities.

In the meantime, the move to regulate signs in Kerrville presses forward and will come before the City Council for a first read early next month.

We’re concerned this potential decision to regulate private businesses, especially those dependent on signage to attract customers, could run afoul of Constitutional considerations, and prove to be an unintended and expensive consequences of an attempt to apply reasonable community standards.

(4) comments

Mary Lou Shelton

if all businesses are subject to the same ordinance, then no one is put at a disadvantage. I think the citizens of a city should be the primary ones considered when we discuss local ordinances. we live here, and we spend the money that fuels the local businesses. but I do prefer electronic signs to static ones as they can be programmed to display many things, some actually interesting. gene

Armadillo

I agree with the majority that sign size should be restricted. The electronic signs can be very distracting and at night, literally blinding. Should the ordinance allow for the review of sign content as well? Steve

Mary Lou Shelton

good points, arm. since lighted signs are easier to see at night, there could be a regulation as to how many lumens they can put out at night, or they could be shut off at a certain time. no reason to have a sign on advertising your business at 2 am when you closed at 6pm and dont open till 8 am . you are quite correct in that many drivers, including me, sometimes have trouble at night with bright lights. as to content, probably not as local laws will eliminate obscene or highly offensive displays. but 4 by 8 is pretty big and can be seen a long way off. maybe 3 by 6 would be better. gene

political42

One has to wonder why this ordinance is even up for discussion. Is it because of the sign put up by the Chamber? Or the one put up at Tivy stadium. Are they larger than the current regulation?

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