The city will host meetings with business owners and interested parties to review the proposed changes beginning today. Today’s meetings will be at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Chambers at City Center in downtown.
The Woodstock Planning Commission during its July 6 meeting will consider the amendments at 7 p.m. at City Hall Annex.
The first reading of the changes will be held at 7 p.m. July 25 at the chambers and the second reading is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 8.
The proposed changes can be viewed at www.wood
If approved, the changes would ban so-called “bandit signs.”
Bandit signs are typically placed in city-owned right-of-way and are designed to get the attention of passing traffic.
They are usually between 18 and 24 inches in size and advertise a wide variety of things such as dating services, landscaping and home repair.
The city has had a long-term goal of cracking down on these signs. Back in 2007, the city mulled fining companies that placed these signs in the right-of-way.
City Attorney Susan Stuart presented the proposed changes to the City Council during its meeting on June 20. She noted the city needed more “flesh” in the ordinance.
Community Development Director Richard McLeod also said the city will be making legal modifications to its ordinance, mainly making sure the city’s ordinance is content neutral, meaning it does not pick and choose which signs to regulate.
He noted government or city-sponsored signs would no longer be exempt from the city’s regulations.
The ordinance would also regulate the size, height, number and spacing of signs, signs on buildings, freestanding signs, sign material and lays out the process of getting sign permits.
Woodstock code enforcement officers will be on hand today during the meetings to answer questions from participants, McLeod.
The proposed changes, he said, will now give the city some teeth in its attempts to regulate the number and quality of signs along its roads and streets.
“We want everyone’s message to be effective, but we want to maintain a sense of aesthetics,” he said, adding the city also needs to make sure it does not limit any one’s right to free speech protected under the First Amendment.
Lee West, a downtown business owner that has reached out to the city to provide input on past attempts at overhauling the sign ordinance, said he’s looking forward to reviewing the proposed changes and providing feedback.
West applauds the city’s efforts to reach out to business owners.
West also said he understands the city perspective of balancing a business’s right to advertise their services with their desire to avoid cluttering right-of-way with numerous, unattractive signs.
“But it can’t be so restrictive that it limits free speech,” he added of the city’s ordinance.