Sign ordinance sent to council

Gray Hughes

 The Hill City Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday to send a revised sign ordinance to the Hill City Common Council. The move comes after more discussion on the sign ordinance (that was paused for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic) was held after the city council did not accept the sign ordinance revision earlier in the year.

The move, though, did not come without more discussion regarding feather flags in town.

At the commission’s meeting earlier in the month, it was decided that businesses could have up to three feather flags as long as they are spaced 20 feet apart. The commission also said the annual temporary sign permit fee would be $120, air puppets would not be allowed, the transition sign zone would be extended and “A frame” sandwich board signs that could be brought in every night would be permitted long as the sign would be 12 square feet per side at a maximum and the board would be displayed on private property and not in the right-of-way. Then-commission member and now member of the Hill City Common Council Dale Householder said he wanted the ordinance to be fair for everyone at the commission’s first meeting in July.

Dani Schade, development service coordinator for Hill City, read a letter from a business owner who did not want feather flags in town.

Connie Wolters, a member of the commission, agreed with the business owner.

“I re-read the comprehensive plan, which says Hill City does not want that look,” Wolters said.

Wolters pointed to the recently opened This and That Bartique, which, Wolters said, has been able to attract people to its business by having a welcoming outdoor area.

Wolters said, too, that she has received feedback from other businesses in Hill City who do not want feather flags.

Both business owners and Hill City residents alike want to draw people into town with something “real” rather than feather flags, Wolters said.

“I would like to see feather flags removed, especially when you have multi-business buildings,” Wolters said.

Wolters said monitoring the number of feather flags per business and ensuring they are properly spaced would be “a lot of work.”

Wolters said she wants all reference to feather flags — including those without ad copy — to be removed from permissible signs and added to banned signs in the proposed ordinance.

Wolters said because the commission is suggesting that “A-frame” signs (which Wolters said she “doesn’t mind at all”) be permitted, there would be no need for feather flags.

Wolters was supported by commission member Rollie Noem for wanting to remove feather flags; however, commission member Keith VanNess said that he wanted feather flags to remain.

Some businesses utilize the feather flags, VanNess said, and he does not see the city becoming overwhelmed with feather flags if they are allowed.

“I feel we should allow them as presented in the proposed ordinance,” VanNess said.

Wolters moved to send the ordinance to council with the removal of feather flags. The motion was seconded by Noem; however, the motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Woltesr and Noem voting yea and VanNess and commission member Ron Walker voting nay.

Walker, who is now running the meetings since Householder moved to the Hill City Common Council, said he would entertain a motion to send the proposed ordinance revision to city council as is.

“That’s where we’re at,” Noem said.

Noem then made the motion to send the proposed ordinance to the city council as-is, which was seconded by VanNess.

The motion passed 3-1 with the lone “nay” being Wolters.

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