To combat "advertising clutter," the Jefferson City Council will soon vote on an amended bill that would limit non-commercial temporary signage in the city.
Currently, the city does not have a regulation in place limiting the number of temporary non-commercial signs on private or commercial properties. Commercial signs advertise businesses while non-commercial are election, real estate, political or non-political signs.
"Before, there was basically no limit on the number of signs," Jefferson City Senior Planner Eric Barron said previously. "So a very enthusiastic supporter of one political candidate or issue could literally plaster his yard with hundreds of yard signs, and there's nothing we could do about it simply because we didn't have a limit on those numbers."
Barron proposed an amended bill to the City Council last Monday that includes a section allowing a property owner to display 10 non-commercial signs on his or her residential property.
"Ten really is just kind of a number that seems appropriate from a staff level," Barron said. "I think if you look out there, you could probably find a few properties now that have close to 10 signs on it, and they probably stand out a little bit as having quite a few, depending on how you feel on signage. But I think the general feel on signage is that there needs to be something but try not to be in the business of that too heavily."
He described this as a "compromise" between what originally was proposed to the Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission and what the commission approved.
Under the original bill, a residential property could have two 5-square-foot, non-commercial signs and an additional two 5-square-foot signs per street frontage during election season.
Last month, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the bill, but recommended there not be a limit on the number of temporary signs on residential properties.
While he was in favor of the proposed threshold, Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said, he has received feedback from residents with concerns regarding limits on temporary non-commercial signs.
"Some of the feedback I've received on social media regarding this and some comments made in emails has been, 'You shouldn't cap how many signs I have in my yard. Period. It's my yard. Free speech.' That sort of thing," Hussey said last Monday. "Ten sounds like a reasonable number, but it may be any number is unreasonable to someone who holds the opinion that there should not be a cap here."
Commercial signage would not be allowed in residential areas, Barron said.
The bill would fix some technical items and allow the city to come into compliance with a fairly recent Supreme Court ruling involving temporary signage, he said.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled municipalities cannot regulate non-commercial temporary signs based on their messages. Jefferson City did regulate non-commercial temporary signs differently, though, Barron said previously.
Temporary signs also would not be allowed on public right-of-way unless given prior permission, under the proposed bill.
The Planning and Zoning Commission also recommended removing any setback requirements for commercial and residential districts, which would have limited how close temporary signs could have been to a curb or street. City staff plans to remove the setback requirements in the amended bill, Barron said.
The City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the bill Aug. 20 at City Hall, 320 E. McCarty St.