Less than a week after Sue Carlisle, co-owner of the Maricopa Entrees Made Easy store, made her plea for more council support for local businesses, the Planing and Zoning Commission stepped to the plate with a verbal battery for the council’s policies.
Carlisle addressed, among other things, the inability of businesses to place signs around town, directing traffic to their businesses during her Oct. 16 speech to the City Council. During an update of the city’s kiosk program from planner Shena Rojemann at the commission’s Oct. 22 meeting, several commissioners questioned the priorities of the city in not allowing businesses or nonprofit organizations to be advertised on the kiosk panels.
Rojemann, who was offering an update on the status of the project and will do the same for the City Council at its Nov. 6 meeting, said the directional kiosk panels were reserved for homebuilders with one panel designated for government-related facilities. Planning Director Amy Haberbosch said that move was made at the direction of the council.
“Staff has been given direction through council that homebuilders are the No. 1 customer,” Haberbosch said. “When we first adopted our sign text (code), the biggest concern the homebuilders had was what are we going to do to help them.”
Commissioner Marquisha Griffin questioned whether the sign twirlers seen on street corners during weekends were also in violation of the sign text code, to which Haberbosch said she believed they were. Haberbosch said homebuilders, who have placed their own marketing signs in violation of city code, have been allowed to do so until the kiosk program is up and running, at which point the extraneous signs must be removed or the homebuilders will face fines from the city.
“The purpose was to alleviate much of the off-site signage pollution,” Rojemann said.
Commission chairman Anthony Smith warned not including businesses and nonprofits would be a “huge” mistake.
“I think this is attacking an issue that is sorely needed and will clean up the right of ways, but I am disappointed it is excluding business communities... and nonprofits,” the chairman said. “These are two groups that are going to be very upset and it will be hard to explain why they are not being included in the kiosk. If we do not come to their aid, more of them may disappear.”
Commissioner Richard Reeves said it only made sense to advertise the best of what the city had to offer on the kiosks since residents, not homebuilders, should be the city’s No. 1 customers.
“It would dove-tail nicely that people looking at buying a home here would be made aware of the amenities available,” Reeves said. “That would present a more comprehensive package of what’s available.”
While each of the three commissioners seeking office – council candidates Griffin and Reeves and mayoral candidate Smith – were vocal in their desire to see businesses and nonprofits included in the kiosk program, it was vice chairman
Rebecca Molus who began the verbal thumping. Molus was also the one to suggest a recommendation that Smith made to staff to consider adding both nonprofits and business centers to the directional kiosks, while also easing restrictions temporarily to allow businesses to place signs around town. Such a recommendation would need formal council approval.
Haberbosch said staff was in the process of considering the addition of nonprofits, but according to her research, Maricopa would be a trend-setter to include commercial locations on kiosk panels. Businesses are forbidden by city code from placing free-standing signs along roadways without council approval of a temporary-use permit for special events only.
The kiosks, Haberbosch said, are contracted to ALB Industries who can have them in place 60 days after council gives final approval to both color and design. City staff is planning to have modifications made to the sign, including potential color changes and the addition of the new city logo, once the separate branding process is completed in early 2008.