Red Deer city council spent nearly two hours wrestling with a new sign bylaw Monday night.
At issue was how far portable and dynamic signs should be kept from residential areas. Options considered were 100-, 60- and 20-metre setbacks.
Various tweaks were proposed and shot down before council voted to give first reading to a bylaw that will create a 100-metre setback from residential areas for portable and dynamic signs. Signs must also be 100 metres apart.
The public will have its say at a public hearing April 3.
In supporting the motion, Coun. Vesna Higham pointed out should the public want shorter distances from signs the bylaw could be changed. Extending the setback would require taking the issue back to the public for another public hearing.
The new bylaw attempts to balance the advertising needs of businesses while addressing public sensitivity about sign proliferation. It is an issue that has generated a number of public complaints over the years and came up during public consultation ahead of the bylaw.
Coun. Tonya Handley supported the 100-metre setback in most areas but felt an exception could be made on the Gaetz Avenue commercial corridor, where a 60-metre setback would apply.
Coun. Michael Dawe said he did not want to see council “cherry picking” areas where signs rules were less strict. Besides Gaetz, there are other commercial areas in the city such as the south end of Taylor Drive and 67th Street where smaller setbacks could be appropriate.
Tara Loedeyk, city director of planning services, cautioned council that making exceptions, essentially spot zoning some areas, could put the city in the position of trying to explain the rationale and intent of those decisions should other businesses question why their area was not included.
Higham agreed making exceptions could create waves in the business community.
Trying to find a compromise, Coun. Frank Wong proposed a 50-metre setback from residential be in place for portable signs only.
None of the proposed amendments passed leaving the 100-metre setbacks in the bylaw when it goes to a public hearing April 3.
Depending on what the public has to say, those distances may still be altered.