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TMCNet:  City Council indefinitely postpones decision on 'super graphic sign' ordinance

[May 24, 2013]

City Council indefinitely postpones decision on 'super graphic sign' ordinance

May 24, 2013 (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Master developer Delbert McDougal's proposal to allow "super graphic signs" on a handful of downtown Lubbock high-rises could be put on display another day.

The City Council voted Thursday, May 23, to indefinitely postpone a scheduled public hearing and vote on McDougal's request to appeal a Planning and Zoning Commission decision last month denying his request to incorporate the signs for downtown development.

"We don't know when or if it will be brought to council," Mayor Glen Robertson said.

None of the five people who signed up in advance to talk about the ordinance showed up for the council's public comment session.

McDougal's request to change the city's nearly 40-year-old sign code -- which essentially bans billboards from downtown Lubbock -- to allow colorful, 100-plus-foot-tall advertisements on mesh backgrounds to be displayed on the sides of downtown buildings needs unanimous council support.

Earlier this week, Robertson said it would take a council majority of at least six votes to overturn the Planning and Zoning Commission's decision to deny the ordinance.

"It's going to be an uphill battle," he said.

Robertson and council members said they've been inundated with emails and phone calls from citizens urging them to follow suit with the Planning and Zoning Commission, which voted 5-1 in April to reject McDougal's proposal to allow for the illuminated signs "as a tool to influence development and growth in the downtown area." Councilwoman Latrelle Joy said she planned to go into a possible discussion on the ordinance with an open mind.

"I'm wanting to hear all sides on this, and there's always at least two sides, sometimes three or more," she said.

McDougal did not return A-J Media phone calls requesting comment by Thursday night.

In a letter shared with the council, Ben Shacklette, an associate professor of architecture at Texas Tech, urged city leaders to oppose allowing the signs or, at least, to enact "strict controls and strenuous guidelines that tightly regulate the physical nature, artistic quality and where possible, the intellectual content" of the advertisements.

"I too share the concern of the many that prefer not to see this sort of visual intrusion invade the serene calm and pastoral beauty of downtown Lubbock but," he wrote, "if history has any merit in forecasting the outcome of this matter, our elected officials will more than likely side with the case for economic growth and prosperity over aesthetic sensibility." McDougal's request is for an addition to the sign ordinance, specifically the Central Business District 2 -- roughly between 10th Street, 16th Street, Avenue O and Buddy Holly Avenue in the core of downtown -- and would allow up to 15 graphic signs on qualifying larger buildings.

In a presentation to the commission, McDougal said target areas for signage include the Wells Fargo and NTS Communications Tower, the Pioneer Hotel and the Omni Building if that structure is renovated.

A copy of the proposed ordinance states no building may have more than two super graphic signs and the two super graphic signs must be oriented a minimum of 90 degrees from each other.

A super graphic sign location may not display the same message for more than 12 consecutive months, according to the proposed ordinance.

adam.young@lubbockonline.com -- 766-8725 Follow Adam on Twitter @AYoungReporter ___ (c)2013 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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