Greene County BOS Approves Revisions to the Sign Ordinance

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

  • Motion to award a contract for snow removal to Countryside Landscaping – Approved
  • OR #09-004 Revisions to Greene County Zoning Ordinance Article 14 – Sign Regulations – Approved

  • OR #09-005 Revisions to Greene County Zoning Ordinance Article 21A – Wind Turbines – Deferred

     

The Greene County Board of Supervisors held its continued October meeting on October 27, 2009. Items discussed at the meeting included revisions to the Greene County Zoning Ordinance and several grant opportunities for the county.

First, the Board reviewed changes to the county’s sign ordinance. Most of the proposed changes to the ordinance were intended to clarify revisions made to the ordinance in March of 2008. Additionally, electronic message boards would be prohibited in the proposed version of the ordinance. The signs which were already approved would remain in place; however, new applications for the electronic signs would no longer be permitted. The ordinance also clarified that advertising vehicles are not permitted in the county.

Several citizens and business owners addressed the Board regarding numerous portions of the ordinance that might be confusing or unclear. Business owners were concerned that the prohibition on advertising vehicles might start the county down a slippery slope where business owners would no longer be able to park their company vehicles out from if they have business logos on them. Issues were also raised over whether language regarding the signs at entrances to subdivisions should be clarified.

Business owners also took the opportunity to discuss some of the unintended consequences of the March 2008 revisions to the sign ordinance. Many business owners who supported the revisions believed their signs and most of the existing signs in the county had a permit; however, it turned out that many did not have permits on file. Many owners were unaware that they did not have sign permits. Now small businesses are finding it difficult to come into compliance. Several concerns were also raised that county buildings may not be complying with the new ordinance and that this creates a double standard. Finally, questions were raised about businesses that had similar signs but might not have been notified of a violation.

J. Allen reiterated her position on the sign ordinance noting that so many business owners have already spent money complying with the ordinance that it would be unfair to make exceptions now. B. Peyton also noted that he was not in favor of adding a grandfathering provision at this stage but requested that staff investigate the specific questions regarding some possible nonconforming signs that had not been cited for violations.

The Board discussed some of the issues raised by the public regarding confusing language in the ordinance but ultimately decided to adopt the revisions as advertised. J. Allen moved to approve the ordinance revisions as advertised. The motion passed by a unanimous vote.

The Board also considered an ordinance revision that would allow the use of small wind turbines to generate power for personal use. Currently, there is no provision in the zoning ordinance to allow them. The proposed ordinance was created in response to increased public inquiries. Under the proposed ordinance, large scale commercial production would not be allowed. Wind energy systems that produced between 10 kW and 50 kW would be permitted by special use permit and would have accompanying set back requirements. Small roof mounted systems would be permitted by right.

The Board discussed the provisions extensively. J. Allen noted that the idea of these systems going up in Greene County “just creeps me out.” S. Catalano agreed that it represented change that was hard to wrap your arms around. The county attorney noted that similar aesthetic objections were once made about telephone poles and electrical wires. S. Catalano expressed concern that one of these turbines might go up in the low flight area preapproved for Pegasus and asked that staff see if anything could be done to alleviate any problems that might cause.

The Board also asked for clarification regarding colors, lighting and how many units could be installed per parcel. The Board deferred the application in order to allow staff to answer some of its concerns.

The Board also discussed some potential grant opportunities with staff. The schools sought permission to apply for a grant that would help address problems with the school’s roof and windows. The grant is aimed at increasing energy efficiency in schools. It would help cover costs of repairs that need to be made soon. No local match is required if the grant funds are received. The Board encouraged the schools to move forward with the grant application.

Staff also requested permission to pursue grants with from the Department of Forestry to make improvements to the County Park. The grant would require a 50/50 match but the match can be made in kind or with other grant money the county has available. The Board gave staff permission to move forward with these applications as well.

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