The Porter Plan
Commission tabled proposed changes to the Town’s sign ordinance at its
meeting last night following a discussion of how to differentiate between
banners and signs.
The Planners held a
public hearing where no one spoke for or against the proposed changes,
though Porter resident Jennifer Klug asked for clarification on several of
the issues at hand.
Klug asked about
political signs and temporary yard signs, such as “I Love My Library” and
“Proud Union Home” placards and school- or church-related yard signs that
homeowners often display indefinitely. State code allows residents to have
three such “temporary” signs in their yards at a given time and does not
limit the amount of time they are left out. Porter’s new sign ordinance
wouldn’t change that, Plan Commission Attorney Laura Frost said.
Frost and Plan
Commission President Laura Madigan also said the proposed changes to
Porter’s code on temporary signs don’t change the fact that residents are
allowed to display political signs of up to 32 square feet up to 60 days
before and seven days following elections, per State Code.
Commissioner Michael Barry reported the changes would limit signs to four
square feet in size and defines a sign as any display affixed to a building,
structure, or property. A temporary sign is defined as one that’s easily
removed. Signs, permanent and temporary, could be doubled-sided, Barry said.
Barry pointed out,
however, that banners would be considered signs under the new ordinance,
which is problematic since banners are usually larger than four square feet
and displayed differently.
There’s currently a
banner for Berglund Construction at the site of the new public works
building that’s being built behind the Fire Department, Barry said, and
Madigan noted many homeowners display banners just because or for events
like parties. Planner Jim Eriksson noted grand openings often feature
Planner Jay Craig
said a banner is typically three-by-six or four-by-eight feet, and added
that if the new ordinance passed defining banners and signs the same way,
the Town could find itself over-policing banners or letting a lot of
violations go. Barry agreed that he doesn’t want to be “the banner police.”
Madigan supports limiting the number of banners that can be present on a
property and how long they can be up if they’re related to special events,
The planners voted
unanimously to table the new ordinance and reconsider it after the addition
of a legal description for banners and limits on size and length of time
they can be displayed. There will be another public hearing so residents
have time to review and weigh-in on the proposed regulations for banners.
In other business,
Planner Rob Albrecht-Mallinger proposed that the Plan Commission form an
exploratory committee to create a plan of action for gathering public input
on changes to Porter’s comprehensive plan. Town Planner Jim Mandon is slated
to begin data collection as the first step in updating the 2004
comprehensive plan, which he wrote. Comprehensive plans should ideally be
updated every ten years, he has said. He has proposed his research will cost
up to $4,500, and the Town Council plans to work out what account that bill
will be paid from this month, according to Town Council President Bill
committee would not be a steering committee, Albrecht-Mallinger said, but
would define the process by which the steering committee and Plan Commission
could best get public input in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and look for
ways to complete certain tasks at lower- or no-cost through partnerships.
The planners agreed
the exploratory committee should have fewer than three Plan Commission
members to avoid a quorum, but that its meetings would be public, and
members of the public that represent each voting ward in Porter should also
be represented among the committee members. Members of the public would be
able to submit a letter of intent if they’re interested in joining the
exploratory committee, Madigan said.
stopped short of forming the committee yet or putting out a call for
interested people so Frost can confirm the legal scope of such a committee
and how it would be required to comply with the Open Door Law.