Sign controversy continues

Tiffany Moor was among those aaddressing the city council about the sign ordinance yesterday.

Tiffany Moore was among those addressing the city council about the sign ordinance yesterday.

A dispute over allowing digital signs in residential areas is on hold for at least three more weeks, the city planning and zoning committee decided Wednesday.

It directed city staff to craft a compromise ordinance that would start over in the legislative process.

The controversial issue surfaced last year after Councilman Ed Ford introduced a proposal that would allow the North Kansas City School District to keep three digital signs it put up illegally on property in the city.

Other school districts and churches also wanted the signs. Many neighborhoods south of the river did not.

There were talks and various proposals that would allow limited numbers of the signs, which were first to be approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

On Wednesday, Ford said they would change approval to the city council and shape some criteria to limit applications.

He suggested churches and schools on at least 10-acre lots or three acres by arterial streets, along with some setback distance and criteria on lighting and flashing and other factors.

Tiffany Moore, president of the Armour Hills neighborhood association, said neighbors are willing to compromise but the 10-acre and three-acre criteria are far smaller than the 30-acre and 15-acre standards proposed in the past.

Kevin Masters of the Kansas City School District said that many of its schools are on smaller sites and too large of requirement would shut them out.

Carol Winterowd, president of the Center Planning and Development Council, said the signs damage neighborhoods – “We’re going to start looking commercial, not residential.”

There are over 1,000 churches in the city, she said. “If worse comes to worse, …we’re going to be lit up like a Christmas tree.”

People need darkness, she said. “There’s something about the human mind or the human soul where you have to have something like that.”

Ford told her that the three illegal signs in the northland have not prompted one complaint.

“There are a lot of folks who don’t hate these signs, that actually like these signs,” he said.

Councilman John Sharp said he favored leaving the law as it is and “if we do make any changes it shouldn’t adversely affect neighbors….”

Don Class of the Northgate Baptist Church said they support the signs.

“I’m not sure what the big flap is about them,” he said. “I think the time has come we get into the more modern thing.”

Neighbors said they were also concerned about enforcing any regulations imposed on the new signs such as brightness levels, no flashing and so forth.

A city staffer said the city has only two workers available for such inspections.

Ford said he agreed with Sharp on one bottom-line level for a digital sign: “If it impacts the residents it shouldn’t be approved.”

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