2017-07-06 / News

City Planning Commission Finalizes Draft of Sign Ordinance

By Erich T. Doerr

The final draft of a proposed sign ordinance was approved at a Tuesday morning, June 13, meeting of the St. Ignace Planning Commission, moving forward a nearly two-year process that began in August 2015.

The ordinance now was sent to the St. Ignace City Council for its first review Monday, June 19.

“We were cheering when we finished it,” said Planning Commission Chair Betsy Dayrell-Hart, who will present the draft ordinance to the council. “It’s already been through several iterations, but I think it has just gotten better and better. We got really good input from the stakeholders meetings.”

City councilmembers will take the drafts home for review and suggest their own proposals for changes to Dr. Dayrell-Hart. A public hearing to discuss the proposed ordinance will be scheduled within 15 days after the council approves the draft. The goal is final approval in July or August.

Tuesday’s final revisions focused on signage definitions and were based on feedback from the International Sign Association, including industry programs director Kenny Peskin. One such revision changed the definition of an abandoned sign to one whose purpose ended a year ago, rather than 120 days ago.

Professional sign maker Tom Amor helped with the proposed new ordinance after attending the commission’s final stakeholders meeting on signage in May.

New definitions were necessary because several new types of signage have been developed since the city sign ordinance was approved, such as flag-like feather signs and inflatable balloon signs.

A decision to rewrite the ordinance came following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Reed v. Town of Gilbert ruling that cities can’t regulate signs according to content, but can control such other features as size, placement, and materials.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission also continued work on a new master plan for the city. The commissioners received current land-use maps from Eric Wedesky of Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development and divided them up. Commissioners will walk through assigned areas to confirm the maps reflect current usage.

The planning commission meeting was followed by the first ‘visioning’ session with Michigan State University’s Sustainable Built Environment Initiative (SBEI) to look at the future of the railroad grade. The Wednesday, June 14, session drew about 20 people who offered comments on what’s good or bad about current use of the railroad grade.

Representatives of Smith Sanitation provided information about dumpsters and trash removal along the railroad grade. SBEI officials will use comments and information collected during the meeting to create renderings of how the area could look in 15 years.

Dr. Dayrell-Hart said a second visioning session likely will be held late this summer and a third –for finalizing plans – probably in the fall. The goal is show in the new master plan how the railroad grade could be a connector between the St. Ignace Marina, new location of the Fort de Buade Museum, Little Bear East Arena, Museum of Ojibwa Culture, and the planned pocket park downtown near St. Anthony’s Rock. Dr. Dayrell-Hart says the route would be good for walkers and slowmoving vehicles, such as bicycles.

The planning commission’s next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 18. The meeting date, usually the first Tuesday of the month, was changed owing to the Fourth of July holiday and conflicts with commissioner schedules later in the month.

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