Janesville79.8°

Change proposed for Janesville sign ordinance

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 8, 2011
— The Janesville City Council on Monday will consider allowing signs—including electronic message signs—in residential areas.

The proposed change would require signs to be at least 500 feet from residences and to face the adjoining street.


Signs would need conditional-use permits from the plan commission, with the exception of churches. The plan commission makes individual decisions based on the merits of each request, said Vicky Miller of the city’s community development department.


A public hearing is scheduled at Monday’s meeting.


The proposal is the result of a request from Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, which wants to install a monument-style electronic message center.


Under the current ordinance, no entity in an “E” sign district—which includes Rotary Gardens—is allowed to petition for a sign.


The current ordinance divides the city into five sign areas. All entities in areas other than “E” are allowed to petition for signs. Areas allowed to petition for signs are along Interstate 39/90 and business corridors, in the downtown, or are zoned for business, office and industry.


Entities in the rest of the city cannot apply to install signs. Those areas include lands zoned residential and conservancy and include parks, greenbelts, golf courses and open space.


Churches do not need conditional-user permits to install signs wherever they are located.


If the change is approved, examples of entities that could ask for conditional-use permits include the Youth Sports Complex and Parker High School. Parker High School would be eligible only until a home is built across the street.


The plan commission and staff recommend the change.


City Manager Eric Levitt also supports the change.


He said the 500-foot minimum distance would protect residents but allow Rotary Gardens and others to install signs.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. An informal listening session with council members is scheduled at 6 p.m.


Items on the agenda include a request by the owners of One Parker Place to buy the vacant lot at the corner of Court Street and Parker Drive for $1 so they can build a private parking lot with about 45 spaces to serve their building across the street. Terry Donaldson, Norm Weitzel and Fred Fox recently tore down a building next to the city lot, opening up space to the west. The council will discuss various options on Monday. City Manager Eric Levitt said the city might need the parking in the future when the parking deck over the river must be removed. He said one option is to partner with the men. The city owes about $35,000 for the land to repay federal block grants. The city could pay that amount and the men could build parking to result in a combination of private and public parking, Levitt said.



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