Less than a month after the city council voted to approve the highly-debated and scrutinized Heights Overlay District No. 1 along Farm-to-Market 2410, council members Tuesday started working to refine ordinances for signage and screening.
In a presentation to the council, Fred Morris, director of planning and development, said the overlay is meant to set standards for current and future buildings, parking, signage, landscaping, screening, buffering and street appearance over the next 20 years.
The overlay has been the center of great debate for a decade,
Now that its’s approved, Morris and his staff are going through the city’s code book with a fine-tooth comb. He reviewed the ordinances currently on the city’s books.
“The basic structure of what we have in place is 20 years old and has been updated incrementally,” Morris said. “It’s lost its focus of what we are trying to accomplish here. What we have now is ineffective and confusing. In some cases, various sections contradict and cancel each other out.”
Business owners along Farm-to-Market 2410, like Kwik Kar Lube & Tune owner Robert Kitchenmaster, said the city is against businesses by trying to put in place stricter rules and guidelines, ultimately cutting into their potential future profits and limiting their advertising capabilities.
“We are not against businesses and signage; what we are against is visual clutter,” Mayor Mike Aycock said. “We don’t want to deter signage; we just want to ensure we have the right kind of signage without getting into competition with whose sign is bigger and taller.”
Council members also brought up signs that remain from businesses that are long gone, such as Clem Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q in the Indian Trail Plaza, now home to Black Meg’s #43.
“It’s a disservice to residents,” Councilman Hal Schiffman said.
From a law enforcement perspective, vacant buildings can quickly become part of the “broken window theory” and turn into a potential haven for nefarious activities, Police Chief Mike Gentry said,
“I want all of our vacant buildings to appear occupied and to not become derelict,” he said.
Councilman Pat Christ said the rules governing signage and screening won’t be resolved quickly or easily, and the council will take its time to ensure items are worded and amended properly.