Edmond voters opted to ban electronic message signs in city limits Tuesday, reversing a 2014 City Council ordinance that permitted the digitally lighted signs with tight restrictions.
“It was such an uphill battle,” former Mayor Saundra Naifeh said of the election. “I guess I was just preparing in case. It brings me a lot of joy.”
Edmond will continue to be looked upon as the best place to be, she added. Naifeh said she values Edmond citizens for taking the issue to heart.
Of the 2,807 votes cast, 1,547 yes votes darkened all hopes that the 2014 City Council ordinance would prevail. With all 31 precincts reporting, there were 1,260 votes against the petition, according to the Oklahoma County Election Board. The yes votes totaled 55.11 percent against the 44.89 percent of votes against the petition.
Mayor Charles Lamb said he has never experienced a law passed in an election that replaces an existing ordinance.
“I really don’t have a knowledge of how the mechanics work,” Lamb said. “But obviously the voters have spoken and we will no longer be approving electronic messaging signs.”
Tuesday’s ballot measure passed stating, “Electronic message signs are prohibited in the City of Edmond and cannot be considered as a variance except for time and temperature signs and gasoline pricing signs,” said Steve Murdock, city attorney.
The Edmond City Council on Jan. 13, 2014, adopted a new sign ordinance providing for electronic message signs with restrictions.
The former ordinance would have electronic message signs 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.
After the council approved the January 2014 ordinance, three ex-Edmond mayors filed an initiative petition against the electronic sign ordinance. Randel Shadid, Dan O’Neil and Naifeh were able to collect 634 signatures within 90 days to send the issue to a vote of the people.
Shadid said he appreciated O’Neil and Naifeh for fronting the effort in getting people to the polls. The passage of the ballot will keep Edmond a beautiful city and Shadid said he hopes a safer city as well.
“I am obviously very delighted that the yes votes carried the day,” Shadid said. “I think the citizens saw through the Chamber of Commerce spending a lot of money. A lot of it appeared to be deceptive advertising, the way they couched their arguments in their ads.”
Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Ken Moore said he is pleased with the way the chamber conducted its campaign by presenting the facts to the public.
“I want to say thank you to those people who supported our perspective. We will work together and work forward for Edmond,” Moore said.
City Councilman Nick Massey said those supporters of the original ordinance are disappointed in the election’s outcome. They believed the 2014 ordinance was fair compromise that everyone could live with, he said.
“Some people disagreed and wanted to put it (the vote on the sign issue) to a vote of the people,” Massey said. “We thought that was appropriate. So the people have decided and we respect that, and we will move forward to take Edmond into the future.”