Mayor tackles contentious issue of business signsHudson Mayor Dean Knudson is recommending that the city’s sign ordinance be amended to make it easier for businesses to comply with and for the city to enforce.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson is recommending that the city’s sign ordinance be amended to make it easier for businesses to comply with and for the city to enforce.
Knudson outlined the recommended changes in a Nov. 13 memo to City Council members and key city staff.
He said restrictions on three types of signs in the current code need improvement: vinyl banner signs, sandwich-board sidewalk signs and illuminated signs.
Knudson said the council may want to relax the rules that currently limit a business’ use of banner signs to four times a year for periods of up to 21 days at a time.
Businesses are supposed to obtain a city permit to put up the banner signs.
Knudson said the signs have proliferated because they are inexpensive. He suggested eliminating the time restrictions on the signs, but requiring them to be attached to buildings.
The mayor noted that sandwich-board signs are allowed on downtown sidewalks, but not on sidewalks elsewhere in the city.
“Some clarification of when and where these signs are allowed would be helpful,” Knudson wrote.
He said LED technology has made the city’s current restriction on illuminated signs ineffective. The ordinance limits the intensity of each individual bulb in an illuminated message board sign to 33 watts, he noted, but LED lights use just a fraction of the electricity that older lights do.
Knudson suggested that the City Council put a moratorium on the placement of new electronic message board signs until the ordinance regulating them is amended.
At the Nov. 16 City Council meeting, Knudson also indicated that a change in the regulation of directional signs may be needed.
Dianne Joachim, owner of J.W. Kaladi’s restaurant on Heiser Street in St. Croix Business Park, complained to the council at the start of the meeting about a letter she had gotten from the city demanding that the business remove a directional sign on Hanley Road.
Joachim said removing the sign that points motorists to her restaurant would have a negative effect on business.
Knudson reported that notices were mailed recently to businesses asking them to remove signs in that are in violation of the existing sign ordinance.
The letters followed the drafting of a sign ordinance enforcement policy by Building Inspector David Gray.
Knudson said he instructed Gray to draft the policy because sign ordinance violations are on the rise.
Under the policy, businesses that have a sign that violates the city code will be sent a notice asking them to take it down within five business days.
Businesses that fail to comply to the first warning will get a second notice to remove the sign within 24 hours or be subject to a $150 fine for each day the sign remains in place.
Citations will be issued to businesses that don’t respond to the two warnings.