As indicated two weeks ago, the mayor of Soldotna will veto an ordinance governing the construction and placement of freestanding signs in the city’s commercial district.
The Soldotna City Council on March 28 enacted the ordinance on a 4-1 vote. One council member was absent.
The sign ordinance restricts freestanding signs to 20 feet in height, and mandates that they be placed 20 feet back from the curb. Signs also are prohibited from placement within a sight triangle adjacent to a driveway meeting a public street that would impede visibility.
As approved, all non-conforming signs that exist in the commercial district must be brought into conformity by June 30, 2017. Sign owners also may apply to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a seven-year extension.
The ordinance had been amended at the request of business owners a number of times during the unusual four public hearings conducted on the new law. Several business owners testified against the ordinance at each of the public hearings.
When asked if the business owners’ testimony affected his decision, Carey said on Monday, “It certainly did from the standpoint that they emphasized the economic impact this would have. We were not provided with what that economic impact would be.” He said local businesses provide the backbone of Soldotna’s economy.
In a statement of the reason for his veto, Carey said, “... I feel it is not in the best interest of the economic reality of Soldotna to impose new regulations on the existing commercial signs in the city.
“I would very much support the new standards in Ord. 2006-35 on all new signs.”
He said the city needs to enforce regulations already in place, which govern the size and placement of signs.
Although existing city laws do not address maintenance of signs, much of the discussion during the public hearings revolved around the unsightly appearance of some signs in the business district.
Carey said he has had a discussion with the economic community and the chamber of commerce, and one suggestion to deal with maintenance of signs would be to form a group to provide advice to businesses as to how they can improve the appearance of their signs.
When asked if he would be lobbying city council members prior to Wednesday’s meeting when they might vote to override his veto, Carey said he has been informed he may do so legally, but he does not feel it would be appropriate.
“They attended all the same meetings; they heard the same testimony,” Carey said.
To override a veto, two-thirds, or four members, of the council need to vote against the mayor.
In other business, the city council is expected to approve the purchase of 49 acres for expanding the Soldotna Municipal Airport.
Known as the “Hodges property,” the land is to be purchased for its appraised value: $900,000. It is slated to be used for hangar lots and tie down areas for airplanes. The purchase is contingent upon the city receiving grant approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Earlier estimates indicated the FAA would fund 95 percent of the acquisition, the state 2.5 percent and the city 2.5 percent.
The council also is scheduled to consider allowing the police department to auction off bicycles confiscated during investigations or crimes. The bikes are either unclaimed or discarded property. Proceeds would go toward the department’s drug awareness education program.
The city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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