Nearly a year of work to revise Kennewick's sign ordinance has received a unanimous vote of support from the city planning commission.
The ordinance, which calls for a maximum height of 40 feet instead of 60 feet, and reduces the maximum amount of square footage of display area, heads to the council's economic development committee before facing a vote of the full council later this month.
Planning commissioners voted 6-0 on Monday to recommend approval of the amended sign ordinance, but only after yanking a provision that set a 10-year limit on existing signs in the downtown area that would not meet the new height and size rules.
The commissioners also decided to nix a proposed rule on electronic message boards after hearing that limiting their use would be harmful to revenues, for sign companies and businesses using electronic reader boards.
"People won't buy the (message board) service with these kinds of limits," said Dan Risk of Yesco Sign Company in Kennewick. He noted that a minimum 8-second hold on a message and not allowing any moving images would "stagnate the video boards."
Joe Fischer of Quality Sign Service said the proposed rule to restrict flashing or moving images on reader message signs would cut into his business by as much as 50 percent.
"If I can't sell message signs, I'll be laying people off," Fischer said. His company employs 15 people, he said.
Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Ed Frost said he wasn't happy with the 10-year rule that would force noncompliant signs in the downtown area to be removed.
"I'm concerned that the entire city doesn't come under this amortization rule," he said. He recommended eliminating the rule altogether.
Frost made the suggestion as an amendment to Candice Bluechel's motion recommending the council adopt the proposed changes in the sign ordinance, but without the rules limiting message signs.
w The commission voted to retain Bob Spaulding as chairman and Bluechel as vice chairman.
The commission still has one vacancy, following the resignation of John Garvey for personal reasons last month.
Bobbie Littrell resigned a month ago for personal reasons, and Dick Rasp was not reappointed to the commission.
The council named Gregory Jones and Craig Mayfield to fill seats held by Littrell and Rasp.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org