Sebastian Code Enforcement to use ‘good judgment’ in reviewing signs

SEBASTIAN – The City of Sebastian’s Code Enforcement Board will be out in the city, checking businesses’ signs for compliance with rules and regulations while the Planning and Zoning Board work to craft a modified ordinance to address nuisance signs.

Code Enforcement will “continue to use good judgment” on the signs, City Manager Al Minner told the Sebastian City Council during a recent meeting. Minner said it would be 30 to 45 days to get the Planning and Zoning Board to review the council’s input and compare it to the existing rules. He expects the Sebastian City Council will get the opportunity to discuss the board’s changes sometime in July or August.

The council has requested the new ordinance address the length and necessity of “special events” for which business owners can use special or extra signs.

“I’m not convinced there is any such thing,” Councilwoman Andrea Coy said of special events. She explained that any “special” sale or promotion could be handled through the signage already permitted to businesses.

Using a pendulum as an example, Coy said the city once had been on one end – the business-unfriendly end. Now, the city government has swung to the opposite end – the business-very-friendly end.

“We’ve been blind to the signage,” Coy said, explaining that the city has tried to help businesses that are struggling in this economy, but that has led to too many signs that don’t follow the rules.

“There is a happy hunting ground,” she said of striking a compromise that would allow businesses some flexibility in signage but still keep the city from looking cluttered.

Vice Mayor Don Wright said that he felt some of the restrictions the council was considering were too much, including prohibiting feather flag signs.

“Our business community is severely challenged right now,” Wright said, adding that the economy has not yet stabilized to the point where the businesses feel confident. “There’s still a fight left.”

Councilman Richard Gillmor said he was “dead-set” against any signage that moves, including feather flag signs.

Such signs, including blow-up signs that “dance” to the air moving inside them, would make Sebastian look like most any other east coast town in Southern Florida.

“That’s not the Sebastian I want to live in,” Gillmor said.

Longtime businessman Del Oquist, of Del’s Barber and Beauty, spoke out against loosening up the sign rules, reminding the council that when he first set up shop in the city, he wasn’t able to have a sign because the city didn’t know what type of sign should be allowed. Every sign he tried to have, he said, the city’s code enforcement denied.

Now that the city has rules, he said he would like for all the businesses to follow them.

“I love Sebastian, and I love the rules,” Oquist said.

And, about the questionable signs sitting out along the city’s roads, “goodness, they’re dirty; they’re falling down” and make for an “ugly drive” through town, he said.


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