The Bellaire City Council will hear from residents tonight about changes to the city’s sign ordinance during a public hearing at 6 p.m.
Council directed staff in March to draft changes to the code of ordinances regarding window signs, wall signs, changeable copy signs, temporary signs and sports field fence/wind screen signs to be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The commission voted in June to forward a draft with changes to the ordinance to council for approval.
The city received complaints from various businesses about the city’s current sign ordinance. Several businesses said the current sign ordinance negatively impacts their ability to promote their businesses and limits their capacity to provide information on signs.
The current code allows for minimal provisions for window signs such as store hours, credit cards and basic directions.
Blockbuster can’t display movie posters because once a window sign is taken down it can’t be replaced, Community Development Director John McDonald told council in March.
Shopping/office buildings in the central business district and along the commercial corridors are limited to one wall sign per business.
The sign code only allows changeable copy signs for scoreboards in specific zoning districts. Time and temperature signs are specially permitted but are missing from a table in the code that details the specific types of signs that businesses in each zoning district may use.
Changeable copy signs at various schools in Bellaire, the scoreboards at Episcopal High School and price display signs at gas stations are non-compliant.
There is no discretion for the use of temporary signs to signify when a business is remodeling or to let customers know that they are still open for business.
Schools may not display their name or mascot on an outfield fence or windscreen. The code also applies to the city and makes donor signs at city baseball fields non-conforming.
Councilmember Corbett Parker told council in March that some of the rules “are flat out absurd” and could use some “common sense tweaking.”
The sign ordinance was last revised by the council on Dec. 3, 2007.
Some of the proposed amendments include:
Window Signs – would be permitted for commercial uses within non-residential districts. Window signs would be limited to 20 percent of the total first floor window area for a maximum of 40 square feet and would only be allowed on the first floor.
Wall Signs – have been expanded to allow additional wall signs within the CCD and R-M zoning districts; buildings located at intersections; multi-tenant buildings with businesses facing a parking lot and not a street; and multi-tenant buildings with parking in the rear and street frontage along both the front and rear of the property.
Changeable Copy Signs – are still not permitted. Electronic message display signs would be allowed for commercial applications within non-residential zoning districts with restrictions.
Temporary Signs – definition for temporary signs has been deleted because it is covered under a different section of the code.
Sports Field/Windscreen Signs – definitions have been added for outfield signs and windscreen signs and included as signs for institutions within all zoning districts. For both, lettering and images are limited to the name, motto and mascot for the institution.
The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the council chambers, 7008 S. Rice Ave.