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Stanford alone saying no to temporary signs in town
Other town candidates support revising 1980s regs to allow banners.
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: September 26, 2012
Three of the four candidates running for the Jackson Town Council said they favor temporary sign laws that are the same for both private businesses and nonprofits, even if it means adding more signs to town.
Only Jim Stanford said he would support eliminating temporary signs. Candidates Jim Genzer, Hailey Morton and Phillip Cameron support allowing temporary business signs.
The survey of views comes as the town is considering allowing businesses to hang banners for up to 30 days a year. Today businesses can obtain special permission for such signs, but the Town Council has issued only one such permit in 10 years.
“In this day and age, I question the need for these signs,” Stanford said Tuesday. There are many other ways for organizations and businesses to get their message out, he said.
He pointed to the sign that was hung on Albertsons, facing the Y intersection, announcing Old Bill’s Fun Run.
“I’m an enthusiastic supporter, but I don’t need the banner outside of Albertsons,” Stanford said Tuesday.
“Between direct mailings from the Community Foundation, mailings from participating charities, emails, Facebook posts, print and radio advertising and news coverage, I received no fewer than 47 reminders about the event,” Stanford said in an email. “Why is the sign behind Albertsons necessary?”
Even tourists are more savvy, he said, and banners were more useful three decades ago.
“There’s a reason they instituted this ban in the 1980s,” he said. “This stuff tends to get of control.”
For Stanford, the issue is the potential burden of work the sign laws could put on town planning staff.
“It doesn’t bother me when someone hangs a sale sign outside their business,” Stanford said in the email. “But I am leery of having the planning department monitor the size, frequency and duration of all signs in town. It might be simpler not to allow any signs.”
He also said temporary signs are not a pressing issue for him.
At a workshop last week, town councilors discussed giving businesses and nonprofits a total of 30 days a year to hang temporary signs. The maximum size proposed was 40 square feet.
While the move would apply the same rules to both types of entities, it could also increase the amount of banners flown by businesses.
Since winning his seat in 2002, Mayor Mark Barron remembers approving only one temporary sign for a business.
The issue goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission in October. The new rule, which has yet to be drafted by town staff, could come before the current Town Council members or the new council in January, after general elections in November.
The three other prospective town council candidates said they would support a new law giving more leeway to businesses.
“I happened to be there last spring when Ace Hardware came in and asked for a temporary sign for an annual spring sale, and they turned them down,” council candidate Jim Genzer said. “That really bothered me.”
He said he believes sign rules should be the same for everyone.
“We’ve got to support our local businesses, not just the nonprofits,” Genzer said.
He added that he may want to see the maximum number of days decreased from 30 to 20 or 15.
Candidate Hailey Morton agreed.
“Nonprofits shouldn’t have an advantage for hanging more signs more often,” Morton said.
She noted that many businesses ignore the rules and hang temporary signs without permission.
“We don’t want to have a ton of banners flying around,” Morton said. It is more important for the rules to be the same and fair.
She suggested regulating the signs for each block, allowing only one or two businesses to hang temporary signs on a street at a time.
As for signs at Albertons, Morton said she finds them useful and would like to see them stay.
“It self-regulates as far as I can see,” she said.
Phillip Cameron, also seeking a seat on the council, was in Estes Park, Colo., for a conference Tuesday, and said that the town was unpleasantly littered with signs.
“Temporary signs dominate the visitor experience driving through town,” Cameron said of Estes Park.
He said he wants to make sure temporary signs in Jackson are actually temporary.
But he also said sign laws should be fair.
“Having an equitable system in place makes sense,” Cameron said.
He supported the idea floated by town officials to put a cap on the consecutive days a sign could hang.
“I would prefer to see us go into that conservatively,” he said.
In the race for mayor, incumbent Mark Barron and challenger Jim Fulmer had similar views.
Barron, who originally proposed the 30-day limit and brought up the issue of temporary sign laws, said the base issues are the aesthetics of town and fairness.
Jim Fulmer, who mounted a successful write-in campaign in the primaries to challenge Barron, favors the law discussed by officials. He said it’s important for the laws to be consistently written and enforced.