Sign ordinance going content neutral

Published 11:29 am Friday, May 11, 2018

A new sign ordinance would make some current campaigns illegal.

The Clark County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of a joint city-county ordinance to adopt “content neutral” standards as required by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The revised ordinance removes all language referring to types of signs, such as political signs or church-related signs.

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Under the new ordinance, temporary signs within areas zoned for residential or business can be a maximum of four square feet. Larger temporary signs in those areas would require a permit.

Temporary signs up to 32 square feet would still be allowed in industrial and agricultural areas without permits, Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas said.

There is still a time frame for temporary signs around primary and general elections, though it has expanded, Thomas said.

In the spring, signs can be placed beginning April 15 and must be removed by the last day of May. For general elections, signs can be placed beginning Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.

There are still provisions for “incidental” signs in residential and business zones up to three square feet without permits.

The revised ordinance is designed to treat every sign equally.

“If you have to read the sign to determine if it fits, you’re wrong,” Magistrate Greg Elkins said.

For some political candidates, some of their campaign signs will be illegal once the ordinance passes.

“Many of the campaign signs that are in our community will be illegal upon second reading,” Thomas said Wednesday during the meeting.

Because the ordinance must be voted on twice by the Clark County Fiscal Court and the Winchester Board of Commissioners, it likely won’t take effect until June at the earliest, Thomas said.

The city has not voted on the ordinance yet.

“If anyone challenges (the ordinance) as it stands, it’s unconstitutional,” Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said.

Thomas said there are still details to be worked out within the ordinance. A number of other items within the ordinance were cleaned up or updated.

The first reading was approved unanimously.

In other action, the fiscal court:

— conducted two public hearings concerning the use of County Road Aid and Local Government Economic Assistance funds. No comments were made and no action was taken during the hearings.

— approved the first reading of an ordinance to re-zone 0.5 acres on McClure Road.

— approved the second readings of ordinances to the policy manual and pay grades for employees at the Clark County Animal Shelter.

— approved a standing order for recurring expenses for fiscal year 2019.

— approved a project to conduct a study for fire services in Clark County with the Bluegrass Area Development District for a maximum of $5,000, which will be paid with excess fees from Thomas’ office.

— approved a bid to sell used self-contained breathing apparatus from Clark County Fire Department.

— increased the fee for electrical inspections from $45 to $60.

— hired Nicole Lainhart as a courthouse custodian.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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