Signs of design change on Route 26

Signs. Signs. Signs. Ocean View’s Route 26 design committee continues to focus its conversation on signs along the Route 26 corridor. Committee members spent about two hours talking about commercial signs along the main town road with no mention of its proposed tree ordinance at the March 16 meeting at town hall.

“Signs are probably always the toughest part,” said Kyle Gulbronson, the town’s land planner, working with URS. “We still have more work to do.”

Gulbronson presented a draft of the design ordinance to the committee on March 16. Most of the issues town officials found with the draft centered on signs for commercial complexes with more than two businesses.

In the draft presented, any commercial area would only be allowed one free-standing double-sided sign of 24 square feet on each side and a 10-square-foot sign for each individual business.

After some resistance to that plan, Gulbronson said he will return to the draft to make changes to align it with current town code and give businesses some sign flexibility. He will likely present that new, minimally changed draft, at the committee’s meeting in April.

According to a town commercial sign ordinance changed about four months ago, commercial complexes are allowed more signage space if the complex houses more than two businesses. For each additional business beyond two, the complex is given an additional four square feet on the free-standing sign up to a total of 64 square feet, rather than the originally-proposed 48.

Town administrator Charlie McMullen was the committee member to bring up the issue at last week’s meeting.

“The problem I see with multi-businesses is it doesn’t allow for growth,” McMullen said, citing the draft presented on March 16. “We have to do something for these places that have more than two businesses.”

Directional signs were also an issue last week. In the original plan, directional signs would be taken out of the original 48 square feet of sign area allotted to the complex.

Because of some resistance to that as well — mostly on the part of McMullen, again — Gulbronson said he will make the minor changes in the draft to exclude directional signs within the complex from the allotted sign area.

“When people come in they see the big sign out front but they’re elderly people and there are no directional signs,” McMullen said, referring mostly to complexes with multiple medical offices. McMullen said that elderly patients will walk into the first door they see, become confused and that may possibly cause a safety issue for because then they have to walk farther.

“They’re already putting themselves in jeopardy,” he added.

Gulbronson said none of the changes would be difficult to make and he should have a revised draft by the committee’s April 20 meeting. At that meeting, he expects town officials to continue to discuss signage in a process with no clear end, he said. The tree ordinance will remain as just a preliminary draft, he added, until the signage portion of the discussion is complete.

“We have a draft that’s been on the table,” Gulbronson said of the tree ordinance. “They haven’t taken any action on that at all.”

Once everything is agreed upon sometime in the future, the committee will present a recommendation for an ordinance to town council. Then, it will take at least two months to vote the ordinance into law.