New county ordinance makes flashing signs less flashy
A new Salt Lake County ordinance limiting business signs went into effect on Dec. 19. The ordinance was promoted by several community councils, primarily the Millcreek community councils.
Tom Stephens, a Millcreek Planning Commission member, was very much in favor of the ordinance.
“This distraction is not appropriate for most of Millcreek Township,” Stephens said, referring to the brightness and moving images in many signs.
The ordinance has been a long time in development, he said.
The new requirements will affect all new electronic message boards in unincorporated Salt Lake County, limiting the allowed motion in business signs.
The new provision requires that all animation on signs remain static for a full four seconds before transitioning to another message. Further, the transition time between messages is required to last at least three seconds.
The ordinance also limits the brightness of the signs and requires that sensors be installed to confirm compliance.
These provisions are intended to mitigate the impact of the signs on nearby residential communities and to reduce distractions to drivers and potential traffic hazards.
The ordinance was passed over the objections of some local businesses. Former County Councilwoman Jani Iwamoto said that the ordinance tries to appeal to business interests by limiting the new provisions only to new signage.
“Existing signs will not be affected unless and until they need to be replaced,” Iwamoto said when she presented the new ordinance to the Mount Olympus Community Council.
But some businesses don’t agree that this “grandfather clause” is as important as the need for scrolling letters and animated messages.
“The demand is there because it’s so effective,” said Young Electric Sign Company Senior Vice President Jeff Young. He stressed that all signs need to be continually replaced and upgraded as the technology changes.
Millcreek Planning Commissioner John Janson acknowledged the validity of the business concerns, but said that this ordinance is a step forward.
“It’s important for us to shape the kind of streetscape we are trying to create in our community,” he said.
On Dec. 4, the county council approved the ordinance six to one in support of the recommendations of the community councils and the planning commission. Only one council member, Max Burdick, voted against the ordinance.
Burdick said the ordinance places cumbersome regulations on business.
“That’s not a good thing to put the business community through,” he said.