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New sign policy gets first read by city

The content-neutral sign ordinance cleared its first reading by the Winchester Board of Commissioners Tuesday, though it has grown to allow electronic billboards and delayed changes to campaign season signs until 2019 among other changes.

The sign ordinance revision was started to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating sign ordinances must be content-neutral, meaning the ordinance can not make a difference between a political sign and a business sign, for example.

The Clark County Fiscal Court had already approved a first reading of the joint ordinance, but delayed its second reading until the city voted on it as well.

The new provisions would allow a maximum size of 32-square feet for “temporary signs” placed during election seasons, as specified in the ordinance, in areas zoned for business, agricultural and industrial use. Residential areas would be limited to a maximum 4 square-foot temporary sign. Presently, there are no restrictions on size of temporary signs, Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The Jan. 1, 2019, effective date on temporary signs addresses concerns raised by some county magistrates that candidates in the current election would lose money after buying signs that would become illegal once the ordinance passed.

Magistrate Greg Elkins, who served on a committee addressing the sign ordinance, said the magistrates did not want the ordinance to affect the current election.

“You can do it this time, but you can’t do it after,” Winchester City Attorney William Dykeman said of the temporary sign size restrictions.

Other new clauses would allow electronic message signs on buildings zoned for business and for businesses to hang banners from light poles, both of which are currently prohibited.

The commissioners approved the first reading unanimously, and Elkins said he thought the fiscal court would approve it on second reading as well.

Earlier in the meeting, Bryanna Carroll, governmental affairs director for the Kentucky League of Cities, updated the commissioners on the results from this year’s legislative session.

“This session was actually a very good session,” Carroll said.

Of the measures supported by KLC, Carroll said 79 bills and 14 agenda items were passed, while 31 bills the group opposed did not.

Some of the key victories, she said, were the phase-in of the increased retirement contributions for cities to employees and the 12 percent annual increase cap. There was also a statute approved to prohibit the state from issuing unfunded mandates to cities, though she said the statute could be suspended to pass legislation, she said.

In other action, the commissioners:

— reviewed the proposed 2019 fiscal year street paving program in Winchester, which includes 16 streets for a total of $273,245.25.

— approved a request for a street closure for the Gift of Life 5K.

— approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding disposal of large or abandoned items.

— approved the second reading of an ordinance to allow sidewalk dining.

— awarded a bid of $66,987 to DMH Construction for concrete work at Winchester Fire-EMS’s new training tower.

— accepted a proposal for the University of Kentucky Program for Archaelogical Research to study the Lincoln Street area.

— authorized the purchase of salt for fiscal year 2019 through a reverse auction.

— approved new contracts with the city attorney and medical director for Winchester Fire-EMS to include a 2 percent increase.

— accepted a bid from DMH Construction to demolish a structure at 243 Buffalo Trace for $4,490.

— promoted Jacob Jones from maintenance worker I to maintenance worker II.

— accepted the resignation of firefighter III/EMT Christopher Hunt.

— approved hiring Asha Nanda as firefighter I/EMT.

— approved hiring Tina Pendleton as communications officer II.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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