The Edmond Sun

January 13, 2014

Electronic signs to be allowed in zoning districts

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The future of electronic message signs in town became brighter Monday night as the City Council approved an ordinance to regulate them by a vote of 3-2. Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner and Councilman Darrell Davis voted against the item.

Electronic message signs will be allowed in all zoning districts along arterial streets, as defined in the Master Transportation Study.  

These corridors are on Broadway, Second Street going east to Interstate 35, West Edmond Road and 33rd Street from Broadway to Boulevard, according to Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.

“The way I look at this it’s part of the choice I need to help me run my business in a more effective way,” said Kelly Van Osdol, owner of the Framin’ Gallery.

No provision was made for Davis’s request that all the signs have a black background with lettering, so not to create a change of light intensity with changing colors.

“I’m concerned. Should we have stronger language in here to define what flashing means?” Davis said.

A static message of no less than 30 seconds only will be allowed on the signs, said City Councilman Nick Massey. The city of Oklahoma City allows for 8-second intervals. The use of graphics on flashing signs will be prohibited.

The current sign ordinance defines three corridors to allow larger square footage and taller signs up to 25 feet in height and 77 square feet in width. Schiermeyer said the electronic message portion of the sign could consist of 75 percent of the allowed sign area.

“Only fully conforming signs, as to the height, size, setback, landscaping standard, and number of signs, including pole cover standards, would be allowed to contain electronic messages,” according to the ordinance. “Any sign proposing an electronic message would have to be modified or requested as a fully compliant sign, with all sections of the current Sign Code.”

Only one electronic message sign per property owner will be allowed by the ordinance, Schiermeyer said.

Certification by the sign’s manufacturer will be required to document the duration of the sign. Foot candles will be the standard method of measurement for light as listed in the code.

Edmond Neighborhood Alliance President Walter Jenny said the purpose of the ordinance is not to make Edmond a better and safer city.

“The purpose of this ordinance is to sell electronic advertising and allow the use of electronic advertising on city streets that are designed to distract drivers,” Jenny said.

The signs are also a communications tool for schools and churches to communicate with parents and churchgoers, said Charles Lamb, mayor. Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce President Darin Kent said the signs would be good for small businesses in town. Electronic signs are a way for business owners to market their livelihood, he said.

Former Mayor Saundra Naifeh agreed with Jenny and Waner’s argument that electronic signs would be distracting, difficult to enforce, pose a safety risk and, not take into account the passersby who do not want to be the object of intrusive advertising. Approving a variance would be a better way to bring the electronic message signs into the community, she said.

“I’m sensitive to other points of view,” said Charles Lamb, mayor. “But I will tell you as someone who is out there on a two-wheel basis in a regular environment, my concern is not the people who are looking out the windows but the people who aren’t looking out the windows.”

Naifeh said the ordinance will make Edmond another lighted advertising community.

Councilman Nick Massey made on apology that electronic message signs are indeed about advertising.

“We’re always looking for other and more effective ways to advertise our businesses,” Massey said. “And our businesses are the lifeblood of this community.”