The Kenai City Council put its stamp of approval on a new sign ordinance after the Planning and Zoning Commission scrapped the old one and hammered out a new one over the winter.
"There is a lot of carry over in the new ordinance, but there is a lot that is different," said council member Duane Bannock, who is the council's representative to the commission.
"I look around and see a lot of illegal signs and a lot of signs up by variance. Under the new ordinance, we avoid variances almost all together," he said.
For example, off-site commercial advertising signs, such as those at Kenai Central High School's football field and Coral Seymour Memorial Park, were illegal under the old ordinance, but are legal now.
Signs can be larger now, and be better lit, but Bannock said there are limits.
Council member Linda Swarner asked about off-site garage, yard and house for sale signs and was concerned they would continue to be illegal under the new ordinance.
"(Garage sale signs) are like apple pie and baseball," she said. "If they're illegal, it should be enforced."
City Attorney Cary Graves said the city has never prosecuted anyone for garage sale signs.
Mayor John Williams called the law unenforceable and admitted to violating it once a year when he has a garage sale.
Under the new ordinance, the signs would still be illegal, according to Marilyn Kebschull, the city planning administrator, which prompted Swarner to ask for a time out to allow city attorney Cary Graves to insert language in the ordinance to make them legal.
After 15 minutes, the council reconvened and approved the new ordinance with small changes that allow garage, yard and house for sale signs no bigger than five square feet to be displayed off premises for up to a week.
In other council news from its meeting on Wednesday:
n The city is putting 53 residential lots in the Inlet Woods Subdivision up for sale. The lots, appraised at $180,000, will be sold as one to the highest bidder for cash. The sale was asked for by home builder Clint Hall, who, as the initiator of the sale, has the right to meet the high bid if it's not his. The bids will be opened May 11.
Council members were pleased to see the lots go up for sale but expressed concern they might not be developed right away.
"I'd hate to see a developer buy the lots and just hold onto them," council member Joe Moore said. "We're trying to get some homes built in this town."
"This is the direction this city needs to go," added council member Jim Bookey. "I don't believe it will happen, but I would be very disappointed if they didn't get built."
n The council also made available for sale 4.4 acres on the south side of Lawton Drive. The land is off the east end of the driving range at the Kenai Golf Course.
n Two special-use permits and a lease agreement were approved, allowing the state Division of Forestry to lease property at the Kenai Municipal Airport for the staging of fire-fighting aircraft.
Council member Bill Frazer said the Department of Natural Resources was interested in keeping the aircraft and fire-fighting supplies in Kenai so they can respond quicker to wildland fires on the peninsula, especially in light of the large amount of spruce bark beetle-killed trees here.
n City Manager Rick Ross announced that Scott Walden, who has been acting fire chief, was given the job on a permanent basis. Promoted to assistant chief was Mike Tilly.
The next regular council meeting is April 4.
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