SOUTH BEND - At the South Bend City Council Meeting Monday night at city hall it took the council a little over 45 minutes to take care of municipal business. With a fully attended council, members ran through the first reading of the cities sign ordinance, approved previous minutes and consent agenda, and heard from department heads on the latest developments in the city.
The meeting quickly hit the center of the published agenda and drove into Ordinance 1498 - amending portions of chapter 16.65 of sign regulations, a first reading.
Councilman Robert Hall proposed a motion to place a moratorium on any future enforcement of the current city code, as the recent cease and desist orders served to area business would expire before the council would be able to finalize the updated ordinance. The motion was approved as the council went through the draft ordinance that was recently passed through the South Bend Planning Commission.
Hall started the discussion comparing some of the items to the current regulations and brought up the discussion of a fee structure that was mentioned in the past regulation but had never been utilized. There was also discussion about the height and width specifications and it was determined that the new regulation would most likely speak to the base of the sign when speaking to the 4-foot width of the standing sign with a 20-foot height limit.
There was also an addition to historical signs on existing building that will appear in the exemptions, with the intent that any building that is at least 75 years old, and has a sign from the previous occupied business may elect to keep that sign for historical purposes, and not taking away from the number of allowed signs per business that are affixed to the building.
There was also much discussion about how far apart a business could fly their flags, banners or signs with an initial look at allowing flags or signs to be placed every 20 feet along the storefront property. But it was noted that the city supervisor will look at existing signs to determine what will work best for pedestrian and parking traffic as well as what might appear as too cluttered. But if a storefront had 100 feet of frontage they could have as many as five signs, flags or pennants. One type of flag or pennant that was determined not to be allowed, was a string of pennants that one may relate to a car dealership.
Council member Pat Neve wanted determination to the type of sign that people create along chain link fences. The use of colored cups placed in the fence to make a sign, mostly utilized during campaign season. It was determined by the council that those signs on private property would be allowed, as they are generally temporary and not a permanent sign.
The fee structure was discussed and it was determined that the intent of the fees was to cover the cost of processing the required permits that people will have to have before placing any new signage in city limits.
"It is to cover the cost for city workers to process the request, give guidance and make determinations as to if the requested sign is allowable," said South Bend Mayor Julie Struck.
The mayor continued to emphasize the fee structure was not a way for the city to make money or be a deterrent, but would be a nominal fee to cover the time it takes process future requests, as new signs will require a permit.
After the council went through many pages of the draft ordinance, it was brought to a vote to pass the ordinance onto its second reading with changes, the motion was approved with one vote against; council member Lisa Olsen was the lone vote against pushing the ordinance forward.
During Department Head reports, City Supervisor Dennis Houk reported that a few projects are starting and will soon be underway. One of the projects mentioned was the awarding of the decommissioning of the South Bend Lagoons to Rognlin's who anticipated that work should be finished within 90 work days from official start. With the project a joint project with Raymond, both city council's had to approve the early start of Rognlin's work in an attempt to get the most drying time of the Lagoons as possible.
Police Chief Dave Eastham had a couple of reports on recent crime foiled in the area with the arrest of three individuals from Maple Valley who decided that South Bend was easy pickings for copper and metal. Off the tip of a South Bend Good Samaritan, the South Bend Police, along with Raymond Police, the Pacific County Sheriff and Grays Harbor Sheriff, actually foiled a few crimes from the trio of Maple Valley. The individuals were busy in both Pacific County and Grays Harbor County, as well as one was connected to an additional arrest of a methamphetamine crime. Several crimes were accounted for to include a recent robbery at the Historical Seaport in Aberdeen.
Chief Eastham also reported that with the recent stint of dry weather, it would likely lead to a ban on aerial fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration.
"I have been working with the fire chief and it is determined that unless we get significant rain there will be a ban on specific types of fireworks. Any one caught using those fireworks will face a $1,000 fine," informed Eastham.
It was further discussed that not only would individuals face a stiff fine, but if any fire causing damage or injury attributed to the use of restricted fireworks would be held liable for those damages. It was expressed to Chief Eastham that he should draft a public notice about the warning, he confirmed that it would be done post haste.
During the Mayor's Report, Struck took time to recognize Chief Eastham with a plaque for his 30 years of service to the city.
She also thanked Council member Hall for standing in for her during her recent absence and advised the council that she would be away at a conference during the following week.
Last comments by council members brought out the latest development that Raymond is facing with the possible annexation of the Timberland Library and the cost that it may bear.
The next South Bend City Council meeting is scheduled for July 13 at 5:30 pm. It was also noted that the South Bend City Hall will be closed on July 3 in observance of Independence Day.