City considers extra permit for electronic display signsLocal businesses that want to install an electronic display sign could have to pay for an additional permit.
Local businesses that want to install an electronic display sign could have to pay for an additional permit.
The city of Woodbury might toughen its sign ordinance to require an interim conditional use permit for “dynamic” signs and billboards, those with scrolling or flashing messages. That would be in addition to a sign permit already required.
City officials say the conditional use permit would help to enforce the sign ordinance, which prohibits dynamic signs from changing messages more than once daily. They say signs that repeatedly flash can pose safety concerns and prompt complaints about aesthetics.
The additional permit would cost businesses $500 and then $100 for annual renewal.
Planning Commission members offered their initial support for the ordinance change last week, and city employees will seek input from Woodbury Chamber of Commerce members and the public.
The revision still would require final approval from the Planning Commission and the Woodbury City Council, possibly by March.
A sign permit regulates the size and location of signs. Adding a conditional use permit for electronic display signs would put extra teeth into the ordinance; the conditional use permit could be revoked if signs are not in compliance.
“We’re adding another enforcement tool,” said Eric Searles, associate city planner.
The city has not cited any sign owners for violating the existing ordinance. However, Searles said, officials have educated sign owners who violated the ordinance and they expect more dynamic signs as development continues.
There are roughly one dozen dynamic signs used in town, including at the Woodbury BP gas station, Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy.
School District 833 last fall installed dynamic signs at East Ridge and Woodbury high schools.
The school district was among sign owners with messages changing more than once a day, Searles said. That was a temporary issue soon after the signs were installed.
“Upon one friendly phone call it was corrected,” he said.
If the ordinance is changed, existing dynamic signs would become “nonconforming,” but the owner would not be required to seek a conditional use permit unless changes are made to the sign.
The fee for a conditional use permit, and its annual renewal, are “not significant” when compared to the cost to install an electronic display sign, Searles said. The sign base alone can run between $10,000 and $20,000.
Many cities have adopted ordinances that deal with electronic display signs. Searles said Woodbury’s requirement that a dynamic sign not change messages more than once a day is “probably on the more strict side.”