The order of business at Tuesday night's City Council meeting was to hold a public hearing and act on proposed changes to the city's sign ordinance. City staff has been working to update the current ordinance since April of this year, while keeping the goals of safety, communications efficiency and preserving the city's environmental quality.
The city gathered input from a focus group which polled segments of the city's Business Retention and Expansion Program, the McKinney Chamber of Commerce and residents.
City Council unanimously adopted the proposed sign ordinance.
The existing ordinance allows a maximum height of 35 feet for pole signs on sites fronting on a freeway. The new ordinance will allow pole signs along the US 75 corridor to be up to 40 feet high, particularly given the new elevation of the freeway. The current ordinance allows pole signs to be placed on SH 121, US 75, Louisiana/Virginia St., between US 75 and Wilson Creek Blvd. and on portions of University Dr., MacDonald and Tennessee Streets. Pole signs will no longer be permitted on Tennessee, Louisiana,Virginia or McDonald Streets.
Electric / digital Signs
Electric / digital signage will now requires static images for a minimum 8 seconds. Animated, flashing, blinking, fading and scrolling images would be prohibited. Electric signs must have automatic dimming of images based on ambient light and must limit the brightness of the image to 0.3 footcandles as measured at 45 feet from sign.
Projecting signs which are attached to a building will now be allowed on the square as well as throughout the community.
No new billboards will be permitted within McKinney city limits. Existing billboards along freeways will be allowed to increase their height to 40 feet (same as on premises signs) and their area from 288 square feet to 300 square feet.
Grand Opening Signage
Businesses may use use a full grand opening sign package for a period of seven days, instead of the current 30 days. The package may include banners, balloons, pennants, wind driven signs. and two feather flags.
Residential Open House Signs
Despite push-back from homeowners, the city will permit an on-site open house sign and one off-site sign at the entrance to the subdivision, with consent of the property owner or HOA, if the property is owned by the HOA. If HOA's restrict off-site open house signage, that regulation will super cede the city's. Residential open house signs would be permitted one hour before the event and two hours after.
In other business during the City Council work session, City Manager Jason Gray presented a budget update, saying that the city will end fiscal 2012 with roughly $3.4 million in savings. Nearly half of the savings is the result of insurance claims coming in at a better rate than anticipated. Gray said this will allow the city to sweep about $800,000 into the insurance fund balance. The property tax rate of 0.5855 per will remain constant, with McKinney residents seeing their property taxes either staying the same or decreasing slightly.
Gray also told council that he expects approximately $500,000 to become available at the end of the fiscal 2012 budget due to an increase in revenue. Gray said that while he has no specific plans at this time for those dollars, his executive staff is compiling a list of recommendations.
Councilmen Don Day (Dist 1) and David Brooks (At-Large) discussed the city's commitment to the sustainability plan that was executed by the Office of Environmental Stewardship (OES). Brooks said he feels that the city's efforts in the area of environmental stewardship played a role in the city being selected as Money Magazine's # 2 best place to live in America.
Gray said he sees the primary role of the OES to be education, and a focus on recycling and water conservation. OES will continue to provide council with ways to increase environmental stewardship. Many of the projects that were part of the sustainability plan have been placed under the direction of various departments within the city Gray said. Some, will be executed over time, and some projects or plans that were recommended will not be continued.
Day stated that the sustainability plan did not involve outside influences, saying that the plan is not about the United Nations agenda and is not under the control of the federal government.
"It’s a local program. We have issues, such as water, that we need to address. This is about our children’s future," Day said. "It's a local program for local folks."
Day also said that the city and it's residents should be concerned about having a local sustainable economy, addressing ways to increase our tax base, increase available jobs, and manage transportation issues.