LaGrange City Council debates changing sign ordinance

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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The LaGrange City Council is sending a portion of its sign ordinance on window signs back to the Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals after they did not provide a recommendation on a proposed text amendment.

The proposed change would have eliminated a requirement that businesses only cover up to 20 percent of their windows with signage.

The council considered eliminating the requirement after virtually all gas stations, convenience stores and fast-food restaurants were determined to be out of compliance with the ordinance.

Rather than go around forcing businesses to remove the signs, Mayor Jim Thornton suggested that the rule might not even be needed if the signs don’t bother anyone.

It’s believed that the rule was created to increase visibility into businesses for public safety, so the fire and police departments were asked to weigh in on the issue.

LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar said he doesn’t feel strongly either way, but public safety-wise it’s positive to be able to see into a store to ensure the clerk is OK. Fire Chief John Brant agreed with Dekmar, saying the only thing the fire department cares about the issue is being able to look in and see potential hazards.

City Planner Mark Kostial said the Planning Commission had a lengthy conversation on whether 20 percent was too low but did not recommend that the rule be entirely stricken.

Thornton suggested sending the issue back to the Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals. He said the council cannot modify the requirements without a recommendation from zoning, whether they are for or against the issue.

Ultimately, the council agreed to send the issue back for a recommendation on modifying the maximum window coverage to 60 percent. No vote was required to send the issue back. The LaGrange City Council is expected to consider the ordinance change once a recommendation from the planning commission is made.