SEBASTIAN – Businesses within Sebastian can expect to receive warnings from the city’s code enforcement staff as they make their rounds in the coming weeks.
The Sebastian City Council has been receiving complaints from other businesses and residents who are not happy with the uptick in handmade “snipe” and other “tacky” signs that compete for drivers’ attention along US 1 and Sebastian Boulevard.
Councilman Eugene Wolff called it “sign creep” and noted that when the council first relaxed the sign ordinance due to the economy “people were responsible” and “businesses were thankful.”
“As you go around town,” he said, “you can see it.”
Councilman Richard Gillmor asked that the issue be placed on the agenda for discussion after receiving phone calls from people in the community.
He said the sign ordinance on the books, which until now was not being enforced, was “not preventing tacky signs from going up.”
The worst offenders, according to Gillmor, are the inflatables shaped like humans that “dance” around.
“They drive me nuts,” he said.
Councilwoman Andrea Coy agreed with Gillmor and Wolff regarding addressing the issue.
“I think we all have been very, very tolerant,” she said.
The city temporarily rescinded its sign ordinances to allow struggling businesses more flexibility to promote themselves and their specials. That abatement, however, was to last just one year and has since become null and void, putting the city’s original sign rules back into effect.
“Staff’s in a little bit of dilemma,” City Manager Al Minner told the council. He explained that, while the ordinance is back in effect, he has tried to not be too strict – but that has left a question for Code Enforcement.
He recommended that he direct Code Enforcement to begin enforcing the original rules and collect the handwritten and “ugly” signs, which would start “raising the barometer” and generate interest from the business community.
Wolff disagreed with the recommendation, saying it would only serve to get people upset and confused. He proposed that Code Enforcement hold off on enforcing the ordinance until after the next council meeting when a new ordinance could be discussed. In the meantime, Code Enforcement could issue warnings to businesses with offending signs and encourage those business owners to attend the next council meeting.
Minner told Wolff while the councilman’s suggestion is logical and reasonable and should work, “it’ wont.”
He said that the city currently has the tools in place to enforce the ordinance now and is within its right to do so.
“It’s not to get folks stirred up,” Minner said of his recommendation, but to get them involved and give input. “Folks’ hair is going to catch on fire.”
Coy sided with Wolff, calling it a “good compromise” – issue warnings and encourage feedback without riling up the business community.
“It’s not going to kill us waiting two weeks,” Vice Mayor Don Wright said of revisiting the ordinance at the next meeting, noting that the ordinance hasn’t been enforced for some time already.
The next Sebastian City Council meeting is scheduled April 27 at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are held at Sebastian City Hall, located at 1225 Main St. The public is encouraged to attend and speak before the council.