Sign plan gets look


Three business signs whose installation on a local business last December stirred controversy in the city of Princeton will likely be allowed under a proposed sign ordinance introduced by the Princeton City Council, according to Zoning Administrator Carie Fuhrman.

The problem with the installation of those particular signs at the Paws Up 4 You business last December is that they were not allowed under the current sign ordinance.

The controversy began when Minuteman Press owner Tim Siercks installed the three signs in late December 2013 on the fascia (vertical portion hanging just below the roof) of the Paws Up 4 You building at 602 Rum River Drive.

The city zoning department demanded that Siercks remove the signs, and Fuhrman explained that the signs were not allowed by the city. Fuhrman told Siercks to wait until the city had modified its sign ordinance.

Tina Stuck, owner of Paws Up 4 You, was exonerated from any illegal action from the installation. But after the installation, Stuck asked the city grant a waiver so they would not have to be taken down. Stuck explained that her business, which provides dog training, dog day care and pet supply sales, rose by 33 percent after the signs went up. Stuck asserted that not enough people had noticed her business sign she already had atop a pylon in the business parking lot.

The city did not grant the waiver that Stuck sought and maintained that the signs should be removed.

The signs remained in place and Siercks obtained legal consultation, while the city brought misdemeanor charges against Siercks for having the signs up against city ordinance. An evidentiary hearing in the case is scheduled for May 12.

Fuhrman and the city Planning Commission, meanwhile, continued working on drafting the new sign ordinance to recommend to the council.

The ordinance draft

The proposed sign ordinance would revise portions of the current sign ordinance pertaining to wall and temporary signs and would add regulations pertaining to three types of signs – projecting, under-canopy and fascia or soffit.

Among the changes for wall-mounted business signs would be that there could be no more than three wall signs for each principal single-tenant building, except where the building abuts two or more streets. In that case, three signs would be allowed oriented to each abutting street, provided the design is approved by the zoning administrator.

Also added is a regulation that a maximum of 10 percent of a sign would be allowed to extend above the roof line of a flat roof, mansard roof or parapet.

Projecting signs

One projecting sign would be allowed per building wall abutting a street and each sign cannot exceed a total of 4 square feet. Also, there would have to be a clearance of at least 8 feet from the bottom of the sign to the ground and the sign could not project more than 4 feet from the building wall. Each projecting sign would have to be thoroughly secured and anchored to the building wall. No illumination would be allowed.

Under-canopy signs

Among the proposed rules for under-canopy signs is a maximum of one such sign per building wall abutting a street. The rest of the proposed rules are similar to the projecting signs.

Fascia or soffit signs

The same kind of 8-foot clearance would be required as in the projecting and under-canopy signs. Fascia or soffit signs could not exceed 2 feet in height, and the bottom of the sign could not be higher than the top of the fascia. There would also have to be clearance between the sign and the fascia to allow for snow and water to drain through.

Maximum number of signs

No more than three signs of any combination (wall, projecting, under canopy, and/or fascia or soffit signs) could be on a principal building. Also, total square footage would have to meet the wall sign square footage requirement.

Temporary signs

No more than four permits per calendar year would be issued for temporary signs to any one property. The proposed rule for multi-tenant property is there could be no more than six such permits in a calendar year. No more than four permits would be given per business in a calendar year.

The proposed ordinance would no longer have the current restriction that the signs have to be located on the property of the business sponsoring the event. Also proposed to be stricken is the provision that the advertising message has to relate to the operation conducted on that business.

Charitable nonprofit organization signs, charitable event signs and local unit of government signs would not be counted as one of the four permits allowed to any one property owner. The proposed ordinance strikes the current language that limits temporary signs to no more than six in a year. The proposed new language states that only one such sign would be allowed per property at any one time.

Fuhrman reviewed the ordinance proposal prior to the council passing a motion to introduce for possible passage.

at a future meeting.