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Planning approves new Sign Ordinance
planning signs pic
Under the new Sign Ordinance, A-frame signs can only be placed in front of the business they are advertising. - photo by Journal file photo

Planning Commission newcomer Jim Reape may have summed it up best about the Commission’s vote on Thursday to approve the new Sign Ordinance: “I’ve never had to get a permit for a sign, but I think I could figure it out now.”

Five years in the making, the newly updated Sign Ordinance reshapes the City’s current regulatory framework into a defined and streamlined structure aimed at making it easier — for businesses in particular — to know what kind of signage is permitted within the City of Turlock.

While the new Sign Ordinance “is not as flexible as the current ordinance,” according to Deputy Director of Development Services and Planning Debbie Whitmore, it integrates the City’s sign regulations and design guidelines “so there’s no confusion.”

“I think it’s really pro-business because it sets up a platform,” said Commissioner Nick Hackler. “…a moving target turns businesses away. Now they won’t always have to come to the Planning Commission just to get a sign (approved).

“This really sets the stage for good things to come.”

Along with streamlining the sign permit process, the ordinance also makes sure the City is complying with recent court decisions regarding sign regulations and Constitutional protections under the First Amendment.

Turlock resident Milt Trieweiler was happy to learn that the new Sign Ordinance would allow him to continue to display a “Save Your Water” sign in the yard in front of his house. In fact, Trieweiler was told he could add any number of lawn signs dealing with conservation — or any other topic he wanted to promote — as long as each individual sign was no bigger than 6 feet or his collective signage didn’t take up more than 25 percent of his property’s frontage.

Council member Gil Esquer asked for clarification on the regulations regarding the A-frame signs allowed on sidewalks only in the Downtown Core Overlay District.

Whitmore said that the Downtown Core is allowed to use A-frame signs in the public-right-of-way because the buildings don’t have any setbacks due to historical accuracy and therefore aren’t able to erect monument signs like businesses in other areas of town. However, the new Sign Ordinance does regulate standards for the A-frame signs: they can only be placed in front of the property where the business is located, the property owner must give permission for the sign, the signage can take up no more than 25 percent of the property frontage, no more than two sides of the A-frame can have signage, all A-frames must be two feet wide and four feet tall, it must be made with durable materials and it cannot block the accessible path of travel.

Former Turlock mayor Brad Bates lauded the Planning Commission and City staff for their hard work on the Sign Ordinance.

“Signs make a difference and do reflect on a community. Thank you for what you’re doing,” he said.

The Sign Ordinance will now go to the Turlock City Council for consideration.