Council okays sign, fence ordinance changes

The West University Place City Council on Monday tentatively approved changes to city ordinances governing electronic signs, nuisance signs, masonry fences and fences near major thoroughfares.

The changes were unanimously, but tentatively approved, on first reading.

The council also unanimously approved the appointment of Judy Faulkner to the Senior Services Board, to fill the unexpired term of John Neighbors, a former West U mayor and longtime civic volunteer who no longer resides in West University Place.

The Building and Standards Commission recommended the changes to the city’s sign ordinance. BSC Chairman Steve Brown and West U building official Clay Chew explained the changes.

Brown said that the BSC had looked at other cities’ requirements on electronic signs before making a decision to change the sign ordinance.

“This is a residential city, and we want to be sure we are protecting our residential areas from LED lights,” Brown said.

The amended ordinance would not affect electronic signs now being used in West U, but it would require lighted signs to have a “dimming” mechanism at night.

“It’s not banning the signs, it’s limiting how glaring they can be,” said Councilman Dick Yehle.

The council also tentatively approved a change to the “nuisance sign” ordinance that relates to signs that are illegally on city properties, light poles or in the public right-of-way. The proposed new ordinance would allow the city of West U to remove such signs and immediately discard them.

Yehle expressed some concerns that the city might want to keep the signs for a few days, to avoid any potential legal problems.

Chew explained that a new ordinance about masonry fences would require that such fences be “engineered” in a way to limit damage to trees in the city. An engineered fence, with beam above grade, will be required for new masonry fences, to minimize potential damage to tree roots.

The council also tentatively approved a limit on side yard fences at certain busy intersections. Some fences have become a traffic hazard, as they can block motorists’ view of oncoming traffic.

City Manager Michael Ross informed the council that an “informational” brochure about the city’s long-range Facilities Master Plan will be mailed this week to all households in West U. That brochure is being sent in advance of a random survey of about 1,400 registered voters in West U on the city’s long-range master plan.