North Ogden considers more lenient sign ordinances

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 12:17 PM

Rachel J. Trotter

NORTH OGDEN — The city will revisit its ordinance regarding temporary signs.

New council members have received requests from some businesses — many from Realtors — asking the city to soften the temporary sign ordinance.

Currently the city does not allow any temporary signs in the parking strip except for thoseadvertising city events. It also does not allow temporary signs on private property, such as open house signs, unless they are put up by the property owner.

Real estate broker Doug Russell approached the council about the issue and said the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors has been working with several cities to soften ordinances that don’t allow temporary signs in parking strips, but that they also want to work with those who have possibly taken advantage of laws in the past, resulting in the stricter ordinances.

Some council members said they would like to see the ordinance be more liberal to allow a more business-friendly community.

Mayor Richard Harris said there has been quite a history with the issue.

“There was a time when the city was cluttered with temporary signs,” he said.

The city has gone back and forth with the issue and it is not a simple one, he said.

City Attorney Dave Carlson said one of the big issues is that the city is held liable for anything placed in the public right of way.

It also can be a First Amendment issue.

“Once you (allow) one kind of sign you can’t not let others (be posted),” Carlson said.

He listed off all the signs that could be posted, like garage sale signs, political signs or signs that snipe at other people or businesses.

“That’s why the city has been so restrictive,” he said.

City Councilwoman Cheryl Stoker is in favor of reviewing the ordinance again.

“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” she said.

City Councilman Justin Fawson agreed. He thinks the ordinances are created with worst-case scenarios in mind, and the city could be more friendly to business.

“I don’t know how we can make a law for the best-case scenario,” City Councilman Dave Hulme said.

He doesn’t know how the city could handle people taking advantage of a softer law.

“I don’t think people should be putting signs on private property without written permission from the owner,” Hulme said.

The council asked to have the community development director check with other communities to see how they are handling their temporary signs, then report back to the council and put the planning commission to work on the issue.

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