PROVO -- Electronic signs and their future use in Provo have some municipal council members concerned the city could light up the town like the Las Vegas strip. On Tuesday the municipal council indefinitely tabled a decision on how to regulate, or not, electronic signs until there is more discussion and residents have been able to speak on the issue.
During the council work session Councilman Rick Healey said, "I don't want to feel like I'm in Las Vegas." He added that in his opinion even the electronic monument sign at the Shops at Riverwoods is a little too much.
By definition, an electronic message sign displays images or video, that may or may not have text, and can be modified remotely.
The Office of Community Development has presented its ideas on electronic signs over the past year. Councilman Hal Miller volunteered to look at the signage proposal with a selected committee and they came up with some differences in opinion from staff, particularly the spacing of on-premise signs.
"This was a selfish interest on my part," Miller said. "I am using it to cut my teeth on issues we share with other municipalities."
The biggest discussion was with the on-premise signage. Provo City has 30 off-premise signs the ordinance would affect. An ordinance is already in place that restricts additional off-premise signs in the city. Billboards along I-15 are controlled by the state.
Provo is not the only city concerned about electronic signage. Representatives from YESCO Outdoor Media indicated they have spent time with numerous cities in striking a balance between business needs and citizen wants. The signage issue has become one of interest in the upcoming Legislature.
"Many municipal and state leaders are looking and watching how Provo deals with its signage issues. It's important that we move carefully and in a manner that's sensitive to the upcoming legislative session," said Deputy Mayor Corey Norman. "Our objective is to maintain the integrity of the neighborhoods while we honor the rights of the property owners and their ability to grow their business."
Business owners spoke to the issue during public comment of the public hearing.
Brianna Thomas of Alpine Home Medical on State Street said, "I am concerned about limiting signage. Our sign is very important. There is $60,000 invested in that sign and it brings many individuals into our store."
The proposal also would regulate the blinking, movements, animation and brightness as well as timing.
Freedom Credit Union board member Robin Roberts voiced concern about setting the sign change time to eight seconds. He noted that the credit union's message board has six to eight frames with four words per frame. An eight-second pause would render the sign useless.
Healey added that while there may not have been formal complaints to the city, he personally has complaints.
"I don't want to be forced at looking at a sign that changes too often or blows up at you," Healey said.
Councilman Sterling Beck, in calling for the item to be tabled, said, "I appreciate the people that came to reflect on this issue. Certainly there's no question we want an ordinance that's friendly to the businesses in the community."
The council and city staff will readdress the issues and are planning on holding an open house for the public.