Victoria council to consider new sign ordinance

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 13, 2013 at 7:14 p.m.

Victoria City Council is out once again to resolve the city's billboard dilemma.

The seven-person council is expected to vote Tuesday whether to approve an ordinance that increases distance requirements between signs and adjusts the permitting process.

A similar ordinance came up to a vote in August but failed 4-2 with one council member absent. That ordinance also included a clause that capped the number of signs allowed in the city.

Councilman Joe Truman, who voted in favor of the previous ordinance, said he does not want to restrict billboards "too much," but also said, "I don't want to see too many of them."

He said the distance requirements will help control the number of billboards without putting in a cap and trade.

"I was a little reticent about (the previous ordinance) because it says this is all you can have forever and ever," Truman said. "Victoria is growing, and I don't want to be that restrictive."

According to information from the city, the ordinance increases the separation distance between an existing billboard and a proposed billboard from 500 feet to 750 feet.

It also includes a clause for freestanding signs that no billboard or off-premise sign can be within 200 feet of any on-premise freestanding sign on the same side of the street.

The ordinance addresses permitting requirements. Future applications would be processed under one permit application rather than two to streamline the staff's review and reporting process as well as reduce the number of trips the applicant makes to office.

Along the same vein, new permitting requirements also call for having a demolition permit when removing a billboard. The goal is to officially document and inventory the total number of billboards within city limits.

The Planning Commission held a special work session Nov. 1 to review the Victoria 2025 Comprehensive Plan as it relates to billboards.

Councilman Tom Halepaska said he wanted to continue reviewing the staff reports and the November planning commission meeting where the issue was discussed.

"I know what they're trying to accomplish," Halepaska said. "The last time, we felt like they overstepped their boundaries a little bit. This is more targeted."

Ultimately, he said, he had not made up his mind on the issue.

Councilman Emett Alvarez said he wants to know what continues bringing the issue up.

"I thought we had put it to rest the last time," Alvarez said.

Upon a preliminary read of the ordinance and staff reports, Alvarez said he does not support it.

"Why are we still too adamant about doing this when in fact ... it's telling property owners because of some city ordinance they can't lease their property to someone who wants to rent the space for a sign?" Alvarez said.

He said he recognizes the issue with the proliferation of billboards but said the ordinance resembles an indirect form of zoning.

"If we want zoning, get it out there and let the people vote on it," Alvarez said.



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