Clearfield planners begin work on a nuisance ordinance|
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Clearfield Borough Planning Commission approved the draft amendment to the sign ordinance and began work on a nuisance ordinance at its meeting last night.
The planning commission approved the language of the sign ordinance amendment prepared by Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack, which if approved by the Clearfield Borough Council would be inserted into the borough's current sign ordinance.
The amendment allows for the placement of signs that overhang the sidewalk, and places installation and maintenance standards on the signs.
The amendment defines an overhanging sign as any sign, excluding canopy and awning signs that projects over public sidewalks and extends more than 12 inches beyond the surface of the building or wall.
All projecting signs require the issuance of a zoning/building permit prior to installation and are subject to review under standards set by the Downtown Business District Ordinance.
The projecting sign exceed 25 square feet in size and must have a minimum clearance of eight feet over the sidewalk, and shall not exceed 25 feet.
The projecting sign shall not extend more than two-thirds across the width of the sidewalk and shall be illuminated by direct lighting only, and prohibits backlit overhanging signs and the direct lighting would be required to have shielding as o not shine on abutting properties or in the normal line of vision of the public using the streets or sidewalks.
The proposed amendment also prohibits floor spotlights and no spot lights shall be mounted higher than 25 feet above ground level.
However, the planning commission did make one change to the draft submitted to Mack. In his draft, Mack included language stating that projecting signs would be limited to one per building façade, and planning commission member Rick Hummel pointed out that there are many buildings downtown that have more than one tenant and this language would prevent them from having their own sign.
Mack agreed that this needed changed and the planning commission instead asked Mack to include language allowing each tenant or business in a building to have a sign but to also limit the total number of signs a building could have. For example Hummel said he doesn't want to have a building to have nine separate signs.
Mack said he would include language, allowing buildings with multiple businesses or tenants to have directory signs where multiple businesses can be placed on an overhanging sign.
The planning commission voted to recommend the draft amendment to the sign ordinance pending the language change by Mack on a 5-0 vote with Chairman Dave Gallaher Jr., Jim Kling, James Semelsberger, Charles Swenson and Hummel voting in favor. Andy Spencer and John Naddeo were absent.
With that completed, the planning commission began work on a new nuisance ordinance.
The borough currently doesn't have a nuisance ordinance in place and instead has several vaguely worded ordinances to handle such issues. Mack said the new ordinance would give greater specificity for the borough to handle nuisance issues such as noise pollution, smoke, animals and animal waste etc. that disrupt neighborhoods and for it to be enforced by the police department 24-hours a day, seven days a week instead of the code enforcement office, which operates during normal business hours.
The planning commission was directed to do so by the borough council at its meeting last month and one example mentioned during council's discussions on the matter was excessive noise caused by a resident who owns roosters that crow early in the morning waking up their neighbors.
Kling said he agrees that the borough's codes and the criminal code is too vague and said he spoke with several legal authorities recently who also told him they too believed the borough's ordinances are too vague to handle nuisance problems such as the rooster situation.
Mack said he would have a draft of the new ordinance ready by next month's meeting and handed out packet of information to planning commission on state laws regarding public nuisances and asked them to read it over for next month.