City moves closer to new sign code
August 13, 2009
By David Hayes
The Planning Commission approved a final draft to update the city’s sign code July 17, moving closer to the end of a process in the works since 2006.
Essentially, the sign code determines the number, size, type and location guidelines for residences and businesses within the city limits.
“We’ve worked really hard, to get it this far,” said Steve Roberge, community development director.
The latest approval came with minimal input from a public hearing July 16. Roberge said city officials have hosted four other hearings to get input from the community.
The next step was a review by the City Council during a study session Aug. 4, after the News’ deadline. The code will then appear before the council for further deliberation at its regular Aug. 18 meeting. Roberge said the council could take action, if any, then or send it back to committee.
The move to update the sign code was put on the back burner for a couple of years while city officials first updated downtown zoning rules. The Planning Commission took up the debate again late last year. Roberge said sign codes can be controversial, trying to arrive at an agreement that satisfies residents and business owners.
“We wanted to make sure it fell in line with the vision we had for the downtown corridor,” he said.
That vision was to make Newcastle a pedestrian-friendly destination, similar to the Issaquah Highlands’ urban-village feel with its livable, walkable spaces, Roberge said.
Unfortunately, many of the storefronts are off the main strip of Coal Creek Parkway. Roberge said the trick was to reach a compromise that made signs easily readable by passing motorists, but not so large they would overwhelm someone walking past.
The other sticking point was enforcement. Roberge said another compromise the commission settled upon was essentially a grandfather clause that allows existing businesses to keep their signs as is. Any new buildings would be subject to creating signs that fell under the new guidelines.
Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.