Tag Archives: sign ordinance

City of Kerrville responds to concerns about sign ordinance

Following the first reading of the newly proposed revisions to the Sign Ordinance, Kerrville United posted an article discussing some of the changes and reporting about the outcome of that first vote, which passed 4-1 on September 10 at the City Council meeting. As reported, council would need to vote again on the second reading for that ordinance to become law.

In the Facebook comments section of the article we posted, Mr. Cory Traub posted a number of questions and concerns that he has about the proposed new ordinance. Mr. Traub is the owner of Pro-Tech Signs & Graphixx, a company that installs signage in Kerrville. Mr. Traub’s comments are shown below.

We forwarded these comments to the City of Kerrville and asked if they’d please respond to Mr. Traub’s concerns so that we can provide answers to our readers. The City provided that response today via Facebook, and their answers have been posted below, with only the formatting being changed to make the responses more easily seen by our readership across the various platforms where they may access our content. Please see the City’s responses below.

City of Kerrville Responds to Cory Traub

CITY OF KERRVILLE: Kerrville United, thank you for the opportunity to respond to Mr. Traub’s concerns. We sincerely appreciate your reporting on the city and your efforts to cover all sides of an issue. Attached below are our responses to Mr. Traub’s observations, with Mr. Traub’s initial posts designated by bullet points:

CORY TRAUB: Wall signs can now only be internally lit if the sign is made of individual letters. This means you can no longer have a regular lighted sign with your logo on it and back light it. Wall signs must be channel letters now, not cabinets. This makes dozens of signs currently in Kerrville non-conforming, some of which are brand new.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This was in the proposed draft that was reviewed and approved by Council on the first reading 9/10/2019. Based upon discussions with several individuals, staff will be recommending an amendment on second reading to this section, thereby allowing all types of wall signs to be internally illuminated unless otherwise restricted.

CORY TRUAB: Pole signs that are sitting on two poles instead of a single pole must be masonry. So, if your sign sits on two poles and does not have some sort of masonry around them your sign will become non-conforming.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This in incorrect, as this section of the code was updated by the Code Review Committee to clarify the construction of freestanding/pole signs. New or updated signs will be allowed to be constructed on one or more poles, or twin masonry supports. The intent was to clarify the options sign owners have for the support structure, not to require that masonry was required if there is more than one pole.

CORY TRAUB: Banners can be no more than 80sq.ft. and must be mounted on your building or permanent structure. They cannot be mounted on poles out in front unless they are REAL ESTATE banners. Real Estate banners can be mounted on a solid piece of wood on two poles.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This section has not changed from the previous code.

CORY TRAUB: Any permanent sign erected on school property or any other school campus or public athletic facility may not include any type of commercial message, including the name and/or logo of an establishment who is sponsoring such school’s activities or events. So, basically no more advertising on Antler Stadium’s sign.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: The portion of this section limiting commercial messages on school district signs has been recommended for removal since the 9/10/2019 Council hearing to align with previous court decisions.

• CORY TRAUB: Electronic signs must now hold the message for 8 seconds instead of 4 before changing to a new message.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This is correct, as amended by Council, unless changed on second reading.

• CORY TRAUB: The City of Kerrville will now have 30 days to approve your sign permit, unlike the 10 days it used to be.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This section remains unchanged from the existing sign code. The sign code does require an approval or denial of a sign permit within 30 days; however, Development Services policy will continue to maintain a standard for approval or denial of a sign permit within 10 days.

•CORY TRAUB: Finally, the size of electronic signs was 32sqft, the code review committee recommended 32sqft for the smaller signs and up to 64sqft for the larger signs. To put it in perspective 32sqft is the size of a sheet of plywood. The electronic sign at Antler Stadium is 72sqft and the electronic sign at the Chamber of Commerce is almost 80sqft. Planning and Zoning rejected the code review committee’s recommendations to allow the larger electronic signs and brought it back to 32sqft for everyone. Now….the sign at Antler Stadium was permitted and installed in 2012 before the sign ordinance was re-written and there were no size limits for electronic signs, therefore it is grandfathered in. The city cannot make them change the size of that sign but they can change how they must operate it.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: As per section 92-13 Nonconforming signs, all legal signs in existence at the time of adoption may remain in place. Any electronic display, such as Antler Stadium sign, must conform to the updated operational standards (such as length of time for each display, no motion, luminance requirements etc.), but the code does not require the size or location to be adjusted unless the sign is modified.

•CORY TRAUB: The electronic sign at the Chamber of Commerce was “accidentally permitted in error” by the city in 2018 under the ordinance that only allows 32sqft. So, before we adopt a new ordinance that still only allows businesses to have 32sqft of electronic signs shouldn’t we consider what the city is going to do about the sign at the Chamber of Commerce? I personally do not care if the new ordinance allows bigger or smaller signs nor do I want to see Kerrville covered in 80sqft electronic signs like Atlantic City or Las Vegas. My issue is that if one business is allowed 80sqft of Electronic sign than ALL Kerrville businesses should be allowed up to 80sqft of electronic sign. If not than the City must be held accountable for their “mistake” and make it right.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: The City has been very open and transparent about the permitting error regarding the Chamber sign, has taken enforcement measures, and the Chamber is still currently operating the sign at a maximum of 32 square feet. Once a new sign ordinance is adopted, a more permanent solution will be pursued.

Thank you again,
The City of Kerrville

Council passes first reading of new sign ordinance

Council passed the first reading of the newly revised sign ordinance in a 4-1 vote on Tuesday night at the regularly scheduled meeting. Kim Clarkson cast the dissenting vote, with Cochrane, Mayor Blackburn, Eychner, and Sigerman in favor of the law that was also approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission on August 15. A second reading must be held and approved before the proposal becomes law.

Council made one amendment to the P&Z version of the law: the “static time” was lengthened from four seconds to eight seconds. The static time refers to the amount of time that a message must “hold” on the screen before transitioning to a new message.

Councilmember Kim Clarkson stated that although she supports re-writing the code, she hoped that approval could be postponed until some of the concerns were worked out.

Changes

Some of the updates to the sign ordinance include:

  • Adding and clarifying definitions of various types of signs including Awning Signs, Canopy Signs, Electronic Displays, and Murals.
  • Adding graphical elements to illustrate the code.
  • Allowing a one-second “fade” on electronic displays
  • Lowering the height requirement for awning, canopy, and projecting signs to 6’8″
  • Simplifies requirements for incidental signs
  • Exempting government flags and signs from the ordinance
  • Exempting traffic control devices
  • Requiring a 6″ frame/border around electronic displays
  • Providing a maximum size of 32 square feet for electronic displays
  • Lengthening the “hold time” or “static time” of electronic displays to eight seconds (added by council)

Process

The process of re-writing the sign ordinance began with the Code Review Committee (CRC) in October 2018. The committee, made up of approximately 15 community members, worked on several ordinances with some of the goals including bringing the laws in line with modern technology, making them easier to understand and enforce, and eliminate any confusion or vagueness. The Code Review Committee held several public meetings as well as an open house to discuss the changes they would propose to the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z).

The CRC passed their recommendations to the P&Z, which included a provision to allow certain businesses to install an electronic sign up to 64 square feet in surface area — doubling the current maximum. P&Z held a public hearing on August 15. During that meeting, approximately 14 individuals spoke against a proposed size increase, with two supporting an increase. P&Z removed the increased surface area from the proposed ordinance, among other minor changes, and sent the ordinance up the chain to City Council.

Council must vote and approve of two “readings” of a proposed new ordinance for it to become law. Tuesday’s meeting (September 10) was the first reading, and a second reading will be scheduled for an upcoming council meeting. If the proposal is approved on the second reading, it becomes law.

Timeline of events and meetings leading up to the adoption of the Sign Ordinance

References

Video

Here is the full video of Tuesday night’s meeting.

City Council will get final word on sign ordinance overhaul

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting will include a discussion and consideration of the updated sign ordinance that P&Z approved on August 15. Although the Code Review Committee recommended to P&Z that the largest allowable electronic sign should be increased to 64 square feet from 32 square feet for some businesses, P&Z vetoed that amendment after hearing from over a dozen citizens opposed to the increase. This Tuesday, Council will make the final decision about this ordinance.

Council will vote on the first reading of the ordinance. If approved, a second reading will be scheduled for the next council meeting, and if approved a second time, the new rules will be adopted as law. The public will have a chance to speak at both meetings.

A section of the proposed sign ordinance that defines electronic display.

Electronic signs have been the topic of much debate in Kerrville in recent months. Several businesses and organizations had submitted variance requests for larger electronic signs or other types of signage that was not in compliance with the current statutes. The topic was a point of discussion leading up to May’s city council elections. The Code Review Committee, an ad hoc city commission made up of approximately 15 citizens, had worked on changes to the Zoning Code, Sign Ordinance, and other matters, from October 2018 through July 2019, and recommended the increase, among other changes. P&Z held a public hearing and approved new rules, but rejected the electronic signage increase, and now those adopted rules head to council for final approval or denial.

References

Article written by Aaron Yates

P&Z rejects proposal to increase size of electronic signs

During the regularly scheduled meeting of Kerrville’s Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday afternoon, commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current maximum size of electronic signage at 32 square feet, and also voted to adopt new language to clarify rules for other sign types in Kerrville and the extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The proposed changes presented by the Code Review Committee suggested enlarging the maximum allowed electronic signage to 64 square feet for businesses with certain road frontage. However, the commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current 32 square foot maximum after hearing from over a dozen community members that spoke out against the proposed enlargement.

Approximately 16 citizens, businesspersons, and community representatives addressed the commission with their thoughts on electronic signage in general and the proposed rule changes specifically. All but two persons spoke against enlarging the allowed size of electronic signs. Two individuals spoke in support of the proposed rule changes to allow the larger signs — Walt Koenig of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce and Cory Traub of Pro Tech Signs & Graphixx.

After listening to the public comments, commissioners proposed several changes to the proposed ordinance that will now be submitted to the City Council for consideration and discussion. Changes included maintaining the maximum electronic signage at 32 square feet, maintaining the current duration of electronic messages at four seconds, and also some other minor changes to language regarding awning signs. The council will oversee a three-step process including a public hearing and two readings of the proposed changes to the ordinance. Community members will have a chance to speak again when council considers the ordinance presented to them by the P&Z.

Electronic signs have been the topic of much debate in Kerrville in recent months. Several businesses and organizations had submitted variance requests for larger electronic signs or other types of signage that was not in compliance with the current statutes. The topic was a point of discussion leading up to May’s city council elections. The Code Review Committee, an ad hoc city commission made up of approximately 15 citizens, had worked on changes to the Zoning Code, Sign Ordinance, and other matters, from October 2018 through July 2019.

References

Written by Aaron Yates of Kerrville United

P&Z denies variance for Calvary Temple Church

In a 4-1 vote on Thursday evening, February 7, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied a variance request for a large electronic sign submitted by Calvary Temple Church. The proposed sign was to be located on church property along Loop 534, and would have more than doubled the currently allowed maximum sign area.

The motion to deny was made by David Jones, seconded by Garrett Harmon, and passed 4-1, with Chairman Bob Waller casting the dissenting vote.

“In a few months, this may be a moot point.”

Rustin Zuber, P&Z Commission Member
Diagram of relative sizes of the maximum size allowed by ordinance versus the proposed size of the Calvary Temple Sign on Loop 534.

More than one commission member stated that they were voting “no” at this time, but that the code review process was in the works, and the sign ordinance may very well change once that process is complete. So it is possible that the proposed sign may, in fact, be in compliance with a future amended sign ordinance.

Staff reported that the Code Review Committee would be meeting during the next two weeks, and an open house of the proposed revisions would be available to the public on February 25. Following that presentation, a joint P&Z and Council meeting would be scheduled for March 7.

Electronic signs to be reconsidered by P&Z

Kerrville’s Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss electronic signage during this Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall. Two agenda items relate to the electronic signage issue. The first is a discussion regarding sign ordinance research. The second is a variance request for Calvary Temple Church’s proposed electronic sign on Loop 534. The variance request for the Chamber of Commerce sign has been withdrawn and will not be part of Thursday’s meeting.

The full agenda and packet is available to download here (PDF).

Sign Ordinance Review

At the previous P&Z meeting, the commission instructed staff to review the current sign ordinance and collect examples of various sign ordinances from other communities. This research was specific to how other cities treat electronic message displays, digital boards, electronic message centers, or changeable copy signs.

Within the agenda packet prepared for commission members, staff has created a chart displaying sign ordinances from numerous Texas cities as small as Llano and as large as Bryan. Many of these cities regulate a sign’s total area, and then denote a percentage of that total area that can be used for electronic messages. The chart is shown below.

Staff recommends that if the commission does want to change the code, that they consider changing our current ordinance to regulate electronic signage as a percentage of the total size of an allowed sign, but also cautions the commission that another committee has already been tasked with the review of the sign code (along with other ordinances) next year. Staff’s opinion states that it might not be prudent to review and update the sign code at this time, knowing that the entire code will be reviewed again in a few months.

The Kerrville Daily Times offered an online poll on their website asking if the city’s sign and billboard regulations need an update. Although the poll doesn’t indicate the number of responses, the results show that approximately 2/3 of respondents believe the regulations need to be updated.

Kerrville Daily Times online poll results as of February 4, 2019.

If the P&Z does decide to amend the ordinance, it would not be done at Thursday’s meeting. Staff and City Attorney Mike Hayes would likely draft an ordinance to amend the code, which would be approved at subsequent meetings.

Chamber of Commerce Sign

Last month a variance request for TEU Services for a sign located at the Chamber of Commerce was pulled from the agenda just hours prior to the meeting. Again this month, the variance request has been withdrawn and may be reapplied for at a later date. So, for now, the sign at the Chamber of Commerce building will continue to be used only in part, so as to conform with the current ordinance.

Calvary Temple Sign

After tabling the matter last month, Calvary Temple Church is back on the agenda for two variances relating to an application for an electronic sign along Loop 534. The two variances requested include:

  1. To allow a freestanding sign to be located on nonresidential property for an establishment that has an existing monument sign;
  2. To allow an electronic sign to exceed the maximum size of 32 square feet by allowing an electronic sign that is 12 feet by 6 feet for a total of 72 square feet.

Staff traditionally does not make recommendations for or against specific sign variances, and has not made a recommendation in this case.

Mock-up of proposed sign at Calvary Temple Church.

If the variance request is approved, Calvary Temple may begin construction of the sign. The variance does not have to be reviewed by City Council.

The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 PM this Thursday, February 7, 2019, and will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 701 Main Street, Kerrville, Texas. The meeting is open to the public.

Electronic sign requests postponed

Kerrville’s Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to hear variance requests for two proposed electronic signs on Thursday, January 3, 2019, but both requests were postponed or removed from Thursday’s agenda.

For the Chamber of Commerce sign along Sidney Baker Street, the agenda item was removed at the request of the applicant. No information about that variance request was presented at Thursday’s meeting. P&Z Chairman Bob Waller indicated that the item would likely be revisited at a future meeting.

The variance request from Calvary Temple Church was presented, but no action was taken. Instead, the committee voted unanimously to table the matter and to hear recommendations about possible amendments to the sign ordinance at the next meeting on February 7.

P&Z considers electronic signage requests

The State of Texas grants cities the ability to regulate quite a variety of activities within the city limits. The City of Kerrville enforces building codes, fire regulations, development codes, sidewalks, and signs, among other things. At the staff level, our city’s administrators consider applications and review design criteria, and they approve or disapprove these proposals based on the city’s Municipal Codes. 

One of these codes is known as the “Sign Ordinance.” This lengthy set of rules and regulations sets forth criteria for the placement, materials, and size of various types of signage, including the types illustrated below.

Diagram taken from the City of Kerrville’s Sign Ordinance

Our current sign ordinance was written in 2012 and was amended in 2013, 2014, and 2018. Any person, business, or organization that wants to erect a new sign has to meet the guidelines specified in this ordinance. If they wish to go above and beyond what the rules normally allow, they must apply for a “variance” — basically a specific exemption from the rules. All variance requests must be approved by the city’s Planning & Zoning Board.

A specific portion of the city’s sign ordinance deals with electronic signs, which have gained in popularity since the sign ordinance was first adopted. These signs can be seen throughout town at places like the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cailloux Theater, various banks and restaurants, and car dealerships. All of these current signs, unless grandfathered, have met (and continue to meet) the city’s requirements set forth below. Our city’s rules for electronic signs, which were written with help from sign vendors, regulate electronic signs as follows: 

  • May not exceed 32 square feet
  • May use color images
  • Must operate in a way that its message remains static for a minimum of four seconds
  • Must operate in a way that all screen transitions occur within one second such that the initial message does not fade, dissolve, or travel
  • May not use motion, such as a scrolling message
  • May be allowed as a wall sign or window sign instead of a freestanding sign
  • May not exceed a light intensity of 500 NITS at night or 7,000 NITS during the day
  • Operating within 200 feet of a residential area must be turned off from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

This Thursday, January 3, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission will hear from two local organizations that wish to utilize signage that exceeds these stipulations. The first group seeking a variance is Calvary Temple Church, located along Loop 534. The second is the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, located along Sidney Baker Street, aka Highway 16. 

Calvary Temple’s proposed electronic sign would measure approximately 72 square feet — more than double the maximum allowed size of 32 square feet. A diagram of this proposed sign is shown below.

Proposed signage along Loop 534 for Calvary Temple Church.

The Chamber’s sign has already been constructed and is in use currently, and they seek a variance to allow an electronic sign measuring approximately 79 square feet — again, more than double the currently allowed square footage. Because of a mistake made by the city’s planning department during the permitting stage, the sign was erected and activated, but the city has now told the Chamber that the sign cannot be used in its entirety without a variance from the P&Z. A diagram of the sign is shown below. 

Proposed signage along Sidney Baker Street for Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Drew Paxton, City of Kerrville’s Executive Director for Development Services, the sign should have been compared against three sections of the sign ordinance, but was mistakenly only compared against one section of the regulations. When the error was discovered, the city informed the Chamber that a variance would be necessary to use the entire surface area of the electronic portion of the sign.

The full agenda and information packet for Thursday’s P&Z meeting is available here: https://www.kerrvilletx.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3234

Dr. William Rector, president of the Kerrville Historic Downtown Business Alliance and one of the authors of the original sign ordinance, has expressed opposition to these variance requests. Writing specifically about the Chamber’s electronic sign in a guest editorial that is scheduled to appear in Thursday’s newspaper, Mr. Rector stated: 

“…[T]he current Sign Code does state that any place an electronic sign is utilized its size is limited to 32 square feet.  The sign to be considered by P&Z is nearly 80 square feet (per side) and is one of the first sights to greet tourists and prospective new residents on Sidney Baker.  Many, including members of the current P&Z, worked diligently to create, as a wide community effort, the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan.  The submission of this sign request and the request for this variance reminds each of us that this 2050 Plan can’t just be enacted then put on a shelf and forgotten.  It will require each of us to show up at meetings, like Thursday’s P&Z Meeting, to remind our officials that this is OUR PLAN for OUR FUTURE KERRVILLE and it must not be derailed even for the best of intentions.”

The P&Z will consider both of these variances, along with other business, this Thursday, January 3, at 4:30 PM. City staff has not provided a recommendation to the commission on how to proceed, because staff has historically not commented or provided such a recommendation for sign ordinance variance requests. Thursday’s meeting is open to the public and is held in the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.

If the commission approves these variances, the owners can proceed with their plans. If the commission denies these variances, the parties do have the right to appeal the decision to the City Council.

What do you think? Should exceptions be made for these two organizations? What type of precedent, if any, does this set for future variance requests? What do you want your community to look like in the long-term? Should large electronic signs be allowed? Sound off in our comments section on Facebook, or attend Thursday’s meeting to make your voice heard.