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December 16, 2017
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Proposed sign regulations brought before city council

By Tia Lyons
This article was published September 23, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

After several years of work by the El Dorado Planning and Zoning Commission and other city entities, El Dorado may soon have a comprehensive sign ordinance and new commercial design standards.

Mayor Frank Hash has asked the El Dorado City Council to review the proposed sign regulations and commercial design standards.

Hash distributed copies of the documents during an El Dorado City Council meeting on Thursday.

He asked aldermen to consider abolishing the city’s existing sign ordinances and adopt the comprehensive package that was drafted by the planning and zoning commission.

The commission spent more than a year working to pull together the city’s existing sign ordinance with city zoning codes.

“There is no real sign ordinance that this commission is over,” former EPZC Chairman Michael Rogers said in October 2016.

“The (city’s existing sign) standards are completely separate. This sign ordinance would align with the planning and zoning commission, so it would not be a separate thing,” Rogers said.

He also noted then that other groups, including the El Dorado City Council, had made efforts to tackle the issue over the years by making amendments to the city’s sign ordinance.

The commission worked with Jim vonTungeln, a planning, zoning and land-use consultant for the Arkansas Municipal League, to develop drafts for new sign regulations and a commercial design standards.

For the design standards, commissioners also sought input from a task force that had long been exploring options to improve the city’s retail corridors.

The task force was led by the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce and had also gone to vonTungeln for advice.

The draft proposal applies to all commercial districts within the city, except the Central Business District in Downtown El Dorado.

The proposal spells out procedures for obtaining city permits for commercial buildings; the process by which the planning and zoning commission reviews building permits for non-standard commercial buildings; and the appeal process for a decision made by the commission.

“You could do away with the existing sign ordinance, and you will have completely new, updated, fresh sign regulations,” Hash told aldermen on Thursday.

City Clerk Heather McVay reminded the council that the planning and zoning commission had pored through previous sign ordinances and zoning codes.

“They started from scratch,” McVay said.

Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed regulations on Feb. 14. There were no public comments on either of the proposals.

The commission is holding off on a request to work with the council on another zoning issue: cleaning up language in zoning codes that regulate parking.

The matter arose last April when Mayor Frank Hash ordered a local resident to stop work on a project to build a concrete, horseshoe driveway in the front yard of his residence on East Main.

Hash cited city ordinance 1773, which prohibits the parking or storing of vehicles “on the grass in a yard between the residence and the street right of way” on a prescribed list of main arterial and collector streets.

Rogers later said the ordinance was a 2008 city council initiative and was not part of the zoning code.

He also said inconsistencies between zoning classification and zoning usage has contributed to such issues around town.

During the council meeting on Thursday, aldermen appointed Scott Ellen and Jeremy Hurst to fill two vacancies on the planning and zoning commission

Two days’ prior, the commission agreed to wait until the new members came aboard to move forward with a review of city ordinance 1773.

On Thursday, Hash noted that Ellen, a former city alderman, is also chairman of the El Dorado Civil Service Commission.

Alderman Billy Blann asked if Ellen could serve on two city commissions simultaneously, and Hash said yes, noting that Ellen previously announced intentions to step down from the civil service commission before the end of the year.

In other business, city officials acknowledged a record that was set during the 2017 Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout.

The Symetra Tour event that was held Sept. 15 - 17 at Myistc Creek Golf Club. The tour is an LPGA qualifying event.

Alderman Billy Blann said 143 golfers participated in the third annual shootout, and 84 of them, the most ever, were hosted locally.

“Murphy USA put on a world-class event,” Blann said.

Added Hash, “The city council is incredibly grateful to Murphy USA and what they have done for us and what they continue to do for us.”

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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