City Planning Commission
3851 River Ridge Drive NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Telephone: (319) 286-5041
FAX: (319) 286-5130
CITY PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES FOR
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 @ 3:30 PM
City Hall, North Conference Room
Members Present: Lana Baldus, Brad Lang, Marty Rowlet, Mike Tertinger, and Scott
Members Absent: Nancy Evans, Allan Thoms, Scott Friauf, and Jim Halverson.
Staff: Vern Zakostelecky, Development Planner – Community Development
Tara Bradley, Development Planner – Community Development
Ruth Fuessley, Zoning Inspector – Code Enforcement
Nick Stark, Zoning Inspector – Code Enforcement
Lindsay Loomis, Administrative Assistant – Community Development
Commissioner Baldus, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. Attendance was taken and quorum was reached.
OTHER ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Review and recommendation on proposed amendments to the Chapter
32 of the Municipal Code, the Sign Regulations in the Zoning Ordinance
to allow signage above the ground floor based on tenant occupancy
rather than first floor tenant occupancy.
Currently, no wall signs, projecting signs or a canopy/awning are permitted for a tenant that does not have ground floor occupancy of a building. There is also no appeal process for relief or variance. The City has received several requests to amend the current sign regulations in Chapter 32, the City Zoning Ordinance, to afford wall signage for non-first floor occupancy. The City Code does not allow for non-first floor occupants to be afforded signage. This is based on the Zoning Ordinance definitions of Occupancy Frontage and Occupancy Frontage Primary. The changing of the definitions will allow for sign placement to be determined based upon ground floor building occupancy frontage without the requirement that the applicant have ground
floor occupancy. This will result in an increase on the number of signs placed on a building, but the total square footage of allowed signage will not change. Also, The Board of Adjustment will be able to consider a variance, subject to an applicant demonstrating a hardship/unique circumstances. Code Enforcement will review any existing signs and will follow already established rules. The sign distribution will be on a first come first serve basis. The reason it was changed back in 2006 was advice the City received from a consultant that was hired on the project. Every detail was not reviewed at the time, causing certain aspects to go overlooked. The style of the signs was also a concern. Having some of the signs be too flashy or too colorful may cause distractions. The square footage of the signs will stay the same. Ruth Fuessley of Code Enforcement brought up to the Commission that certain high profile businesses are being overshadowed by occupancy frontage. The proposed change was referred to as being as simple as dividing up the signage to have smaller signs. Currently some businesses are having any possible advertising be blocked by the occupancy frontage. It was a concern of the Commission that the actual reason for the change in 2006, besides the consultant’s advice, was not known or documented. The sign regulations issue came up after the code was passed in 2006. They are now trying to correct this issue with this request. A point brought up to the Commission is that the businesses will now stay in Cedar Rapids and not go to other surrounding cities/towns due to inability to advertise on their building and/or floor of the building, if the request is passed.
Representative of Nesper Signs reassured the Commission that the sign companies will not go ndrdth, 3, 4, etc. floors of a building to purchase signs from them. They will out and advertise to 2
let the businesses come to them if they would like sign advertisements on their part of the building. Everything on the signs will be content neutral. They also brought up that this has been an ongoing issue for years and it is now being brought to the attention of the City Planning Commission.
Commissioner Baldus asked Staff if there is a way to regulate the appearance of the signs. It was discussed it may be something they need to talk about at the Special CPC Meeting for thUrban Design Principles on April 8. The Downtown Design Review Committee regulates
everything that goes downtown, including the signs. Other cities have different variables, but it all comes down to the same ordinance, which is the request of this meeting. Landlords seem to have the option of choosing elsewhere in the state, not the city.
Scott Overland made a motion to approve. Brad Lang seconded the motion. The request was approved by a vote of 5 to 0.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 PM.
Lindsay Loomis, Recording Secretary