Planners seek changes in Carson business signs

It may be rare to find a group of men in suits debating the importance of dancing hot dogs, but it's been a hot topic the past few months around the capital city.

The discussion has centered on whether letting food products tip toe through the tulips around Carson City should be allowed.

"It would be awesome," said Doreen Mack, owner of Lofty Expressions in Telegraph Square downtown, Monday.

Currently prohibited, the business community, sign companies and city and state staff who recently went through the city's sign rules are recommending that costumed marketing characters be allowed, as long as they stay on their own property.

Portable free-standing signs have become one of the city's most contentious issues, said Larry Osborne, chief executive officer for the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Resident Don "Skip" Canfield wrote to the city in June to protest allowing dancing dogs.

"Why must this community lower its standards and allow these activities to degrade the streetscape?" Canfield said. "The current sign ordinance prohibits this, and that standard should be maintained."

The sign committee reviewing the ordinance looked at the question as an issue of free speech, Osborne said in a report to the city, and recommended allowing the activity.

The chamber initiated the latest review of the sign ordinance and has offered recommendations about "how to improve it on behalf of the city as well as businesses," Osborne said.

"The intent of the these periodic sign ordinance reviews is to keep the ordinance current and in sync with changing technologies and to determine its enforceability," he said.

Sometimes signs are the most important advertising investment a business makes, Osborne said. For some, it's the only advertisement the facility can afford.

"Signage is the small-business owner's livelihood," Mack said.

The city's Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss the sign ordinance changes recommended by city staff and the business community at their June meeting. The issue was postponed for further review, Osborne said.

Commissioners will discuss the changes, with the option of making suggestions at their regular meeting Wednesday. During the past month, no additional changes were made, but the sign committee has done more research on sign size recommendations and will address the changes at the meeting, Osborne said.

"We want to get some feedback and find out what their feelings are and find out what we can do to improve it," he said. "We want to come up with something that strikes a good balance all the way through."

Other changes include allowing an unlimited number of balloons on a business property, like an auto dealership, but keeping the time allowed to display the balloons to three consecutive days in any 30-day period.

Larger signs are recommended to be allowed at larger retail shopping centers with a special permit. Currently, signs may be permitted to be 300 square feet in size at most.

Also, temporary painted signs on windows, like Santas and reindeer during the holidays, may be permitted to be larger than the 25 percent coverage normally allowed.


What: Carson City Planning Commission

When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.


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