Queen Creek merchants have additional tools with which to publicize their business with a new town ordinance regarding commercial signage that was approved May 6 by the Queen Creek Town Council.
The amendments to an earlier ordinance — which address, in part, the use of A-frames in walking areas, the amount of space signage may take up in windows and the number of days businesses may display banners for grand openings and special events — are the result of more than a year of study and input by the town, the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce and other business-related groups, according to a presentation made during the meeting by Brett Burningham, the town’s principal planner.
On May 29 and June 25 of last year, the town held public meetings to gather community input on the types of signage they deemed acceptable for local businesses, according to Mr. Burningham’s presentation. Town council members and staff also contacted local businesses and interested parties directly for their input, conducted a visual preference survey and met with chamber representatives to hear their opinions, according to the presentation.
The five major changes proposed at the May 6 meeting were:
1) allowing merchants to display grand opening banners for up to 60 days. This would reduce the existing 90-day restriction by 30 days.
2) allowing merchants to display temporary signage for special events, sales and other promotions for up to 36 days per year. This would make up for the 30-day reduction in grand opening signage and allow businesses to use those days throughout the year.
3) allowing A-frame, or sandwich board, signs within 20 feet of a business’s front door. They would be allowed in commercial and employment areas. Two signs, which could each be up to 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall, could be placed at each business.
4) increase the amount of wall signage businesses are allowed on the exterior of their building from a total in size of 1.5 square feet per lineal feet of frontage to signage totalling 1.5 square feet per lineal feet of frontage on the front wall and .5 square feet per lineal feet of frontage on each a side and rear wall.
5) the creation of a comprehensive sign package process for large commercial areas to provide uniform and aesthetically pleasing signage.
The council spent close to three hours debating the proposed amendments and hearing comments from local businesspeople, some of whom felt the proposed regulations did not address their specific signage needs.
One of those merchants was Elizabeth Robinson, owner of Ted’s Shooting Range, 18395 S. 186th Way No. 106, in Queen Creek’s Power Marketplace. The Town Code requires shooting ranges be located in industrial parks and that limits her options for signage with which to advertise her business,
Ms. Robinson said during a June 19 phone interview with the Independent prior to a community meeting about signage,
She said during the interview and again at the May 6 council meeting that she spent $30,000 last year on advertising, including online and print ads, and the most effective medium was sign-twirling.
She also said she had permission from a property owner to place a trailer with a business sign on an empty lot near the industrial park but the zoning ordinance would not allow it.
She asked the council May 6 to consider allowing A-frames outside the two entrances to the industrial park.
Ron Childs, owner of Rhema Soul Cuisine, also asked for help with signage for his restaurant, which moved this spring to The Villages shopping center at 21803 S. Ellsworth Road. He said his restaurant is tucked in a corner and is not easily seen from the parking lot.
As such, A-frames placed within 20 feet of his front door and signage on his front wall would not be seen by the public. He asked if he could place the exterior signage on his back wall, which can be viewed from the street.
In addition, Chris Clark, president of the Queen Creek chamber, asked the council to consider removing regulations on window coverage signage.
He said his request was based on conversations with chamber members and the results of an online signage survey the chamber conducted.
In his presentation, Mr. Burningham had requested changing the amount of window coverage signage may cover from 25 percent of each window to an aggregate 25 percent of all windows. This would enable a business to display one or two large signs instead of small signs in each window.
Much of the council’s discussion focused on the use and placement of A-frame signage.
Councilman Craig Barnes said he did not want to see 20 to 30 A-frames along Ellsworth Road. Chris Anaradian, the town’s development services director, told the council the proposed A-frame regulation refers to signage in pedestrian areas only as directed by the council earlier this year.
He said town staff could research and prepare information about A-frames along major roadways and for drive-by traffic for a future meeting.
The council voted 7-0 to accept the proposed A-frame regulation and to revisit the matter for drive-by A-frames later this year. After consulting with Mr. Anaradian about how much time his staff would need to research the matter, Vice Mayor Julia Wheatley asked to hear a report in about three months.
In addition, council members debated whether to approve the window coverage signage as proposed or to do away with regulating it.
Councilwoman Emilena Turley said she is not offended by window signage. She also said the town and its neighboring communities have problems enforcing the regulation.
Mr. Anaradian told the council his goal is to enforce the regulation. He said lighting from the buildings through the windows reduces crime; he said the extra visibility produced by windows without signage increases walkability and street life in the downtown areas.
Mayor Gail Barney spoke in favor of deregulating window coverage signage. He said it should be left up to the business owner, who also would accept the credit or fault if the signage helped or hurt his or her business.
Mayor Barney asked Capt. Randy Brice, who oversees the Queen Creek office of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, if window coverage signage presents a security risk. Capt. Brice told the council that depended on the business.
He said unobstructed windows allow his deputies to view activity inside a store and are helpful at businesses with a lot of patrons, such as convenience stores.
However, he noted some businesses want higher security and do not want to advertise what is inside their building. He told the council his deputies work with what they are given.
The council voted 5-2 to deregulate window signage. Mayor Barney, Vice Mayor Wheatley and council members Jeff Brown, Dawn Oliphant and Turley voted to approve the deregulation while councilmen Barnes and Robin Benning voted against deregulation.
Regarding banners, the council voted 6-1 to keep the existing 90-day limit. Councilman Barnes cast the dissenting vote.
They voted against motions to extend the use of special event banners to 90 and 60 days a year but voted 6-1 to approve allowing the special event banners to be displayed up to 52 days a year. Councilman Barnes cast the dissenting vote.
The council unanimously voted to approve the remaining changes.
To view unedited videos of the meeting, visit the town’s website at www.queencreek.org and click on “Town Hall.”