Amendments to city code could allow pole signs yet again

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     If the Monticello City Council is going to amend its code for one resident, they’ll look to amend the code for another (who is a business owner).

     Jenn Jones, owner of Mission Cup Coffee, is in the process of relocating her business from E. First Street to 338 S. Main St. (the former Fancy Fritter). Right now, the property contains a pole sign that the former owners used. Jones requested permission from the city council to continue using the pole sign to advertise her business rather than install a monument sign.

     Per city code, any time a business changes ownership or a new business opens into an existing building, a non-conforming sign must be updated to that of a monument sign.

     Jones informed the council that she is not buying the building, but renting it. She has done some improvements already in terms of landscaping and painting the exterior of the building. She’s also installed a drive-up window as well.

     “I hope to open at the end of June,” she said.

     Jones also said the owners are resisting against removing the pole sign.

     Council member Candy Langerman asked whether Jones would be required to install a monument sign since she’s planning to update the current pole sign. In addition, Langerman said the building was not sold into different hands.

     “It’s a change of business, though,” said Mayor Brian Wolken.

     “How do you define ‘change of business?’” asked Council member Tom Yeoman. He added that both Fancy Fritter and Mission Cup essentially sold the same things: food and beverages.

     “The name of the business is changing, the business owner is changing,” clarified Wolken.

     Council member Dave Goedken said if the council is amending the code to allow Jeff McCormick to build a patio in front of his house on N. Sycamore Street, then they certainly could take a look at amending the code for Jones’ business.

     Wolken said, in hindsight, the city should have sought comments and feedback from business owners when modifying the city’s sign ordinance.

     “We should have had more involved when drafting the code,” he said. “But we will need to amend the code if we want to allow these signs (pole signs) to remain.”

     Wolken informed Jones that it does typically take three readings for the council to amend the code, which could take a minimum of seven weeks. The council could always waive the third reading, depending on public feedback.

     Economic Development Director Derek Lumsden commented that the point of signage is to promote pedestrian and vehicular traffic in any community. He said signs that stick out from a building are more user friendly than those flush against a building.

     “It’s also cheaper for a business when the sign already exists,” he added.

     “We want to promote business, not prohibit business,” commented Yeoman. “But we also want attractive signs.”

     The council voted to direct city staff to draft an amendment to the city code to allow Jones to keep the current pole sign. In the meantime, Wolken told Jones she would not have the tear out the sign, but also urged her to hold off on any updates.

     “We’ll work with you,” he offered, “but don’t change the sign tomorrow.”

In other city business:

   • The council approved the second and third readings to amend the code of ordinances pertaining to front-yard patios.

     Following the first reading at the council’s May 17 meeting, no public comment was received either for or against amending the code.

     • The council will hold a work session following their June 21 regular meeting. Items to be discussed include several capital improvement and street projects: N. Sycamore Street project, sewer plant updates, Sixth Street Ditch project, Seventh Street improvements, and Chestnut Street.


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