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Kingwood Planning Commission discusses regulations for signs

KINGWOOD — Debate on changes in Kingwood’s ordinance regulating signs will continue.

The city planning commission met Thursday for a public hearing and possible second vote on the amended ordinance. After considering several questions raised by Kingwood Recorder Bill Robertson, the group amended the proposed ordinance and will set another public hearing and vote.

In other matters, Planning Commission Chairman Mike Lipscomb said the city attorney said he doesn’t have experience in annexation and does not want to participate in any annexation actions. Lipscomb said he will find attorneys who are familiar with annexation, for when the committee considers the issue.

No date was set for that.

No residents attended the public hearing. Robertson said his concern is that the ordinance be plain so that council can enforce it fairly.

“Hopefully this will draw the line and say, okay, from this point forward, this is how it’s going to be,” Robertson said. “So that’s why I’m kind of picking some of these things and questioning how are we going to enforce it, can we enforce it and is it written the way it should be to start with?”

Commission Member Mike Stump said he believes the ordinance as rewritten is enforceable. He and fellow commission Member Josh Fields said people can apply for a variance, if they want an exception from the ordinance. Lipscomb said the new city web site, now in the works, will also make the rules more readily available to everyone.

Robertson thanked the commission for its work revising the ordinance. The commission reviewed similar ordinances from several towns and had several discussions before considering changes to Kingwood’s ordinance.

The ordinance limits the number of signs to two per business and defines the number of square feet signs can occupy. Those two are separate from directional signs that may point the way to a business, temporary signs like menu boards that change frequently and banners.

Signs that advertise property for sale or projects under way are also addressed separately, because it is to the community’s advantage to sell property and not hinder development, Lipscomb said.

Changing any ordinance has far reaching consequences, Lipscomb said, so the commission is planning for the future.

One change Robertson proposed is limiting the square footage of banners to the same total square footage as currently permitted signs, rather than not limiting the number or size of banners. The commission unanimously approved that amendment.

The commission also amended wording governing flat signs on buildings that face public parks, schools, libraries, churches or similar institutions to make the limits plainer.

Robertson noted the ordinance does not address signs perpendicular to the sidewalk, like those on Price Street. The group decided owners can seek a variance to get a new sign like this, but Lipscomb said in future it may want to consider allowing these signs in B2 zones.

The ordinance will be advertised in the newspaper again and another public hearing held. The commission’s regular meetings are held 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at city hall.