While not budging from its intention to ban political signs in public areas, the City Council conceded this week that its policy should be reviewed because it is having a negative effect on some small local churches.
The council referred the issue to the Planning Commission, which will seek public comment next month on whether directional signs should be allowed for churches housed in temporary facilities like schools.
Otherwise, the council gave final approval to a sweeping revamp of the city's sign ordinance. The new law, affecting signs for everything from political candidates to businesses, will take effect next month.
Councilwoman Kathryn McCullough said that churches, however, should be treated differently.
She pointed out that some federal, state and county laws consider churches to be in a separate category. "I'd hate to see our city forget that churches are a special group," she said, "not to be lumped in with other groups."
The new ordinance bans signs posted on public property such as light poles and medians. Church officials complained to the council that the new law would prevent them from erecting temporary directional signs on weekends.
The comprehensive sign package also drew objections from some residents who complained about restrictions on political campaigns.
McCullough agreed with residents on that issue too, saying that the council might be over-regulating.
City Planner Mike Balsamo pointed out, however, that although they will be banned from public property, political signs for candidates and issues will still be allowed on private property such as homes and businesses.