Friday, June 17, 2011

Signs: friend or foe?

Real estate brokers to work with city on sign ordinance


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Real estate signs in West Ketchum Wednesday show several options for buyers. The real estate community is working with Ketchum officials on the portion of the city’s sign ordinance governing the location of such signs, their duration and other regulations. Express photo by Roland Lane

Signs can make a town look open for business—or up for sale.

The Ketchum City Council is trying to balance the needs of businesses with its desire to have a clutter-free streetscape.

Members of the real estate community have agreed to participate in a work session with Ketchum City Council members Baird Gourlay and Curtis Kemp, as well as city staff, to address issues with proposed amendments to the city's sign ordinance.

Specific concerns with the regulations came up during a second reading of the ordinance during a special City Council meeting June 14.

Gourlay said he knows of at least one for-sale sign that has been up for two years.

"I see it every day," he said. "And I get similar complaints from people with signs at the ends of their streets."

Real estate professionals in attendance agreed that too many signs up for too long can pose a problem.

"I want a clean-looking town," said Jed Gray, a broker with Sun Valley Associates and vice president of the Sun Valley Board of Realtors. "We're citizens in this community, too."

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However, signs are "absolutely, unequivocally" the best way to draw interest in available real estate, he said.

"By god, it's tough right now," he said. "We need every opportunity to promote ... our business without undue restrictions."

Among possible options are limiting the number of days a for-sale or auction sign can remain and limiting the hours they can be up.

The city has rules governing signs but often does not enforce them unless there are complaints.

With the increased number of properties for sale, the number of signs has mushroomed—some staying season after season.

"We're trying to work with you guys to figure out a way so they're not up there every day of the year," Gourlay said.

Jim Figge, also with Sun Valley Associates, agreed the signs can be overwhelming.

"We don't police ourselves currently, obviously," he said. "I share some of your very concerns as to the abuse that can occur."

He said he would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the city on finding solutions.

The work session will take place in the next few weeks. The full council will review the recommendations at a later meeting.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com

Signs: friend or foe?

Real estate signs in West Ketchum Wednesday show several options for buyers. The real estate community is working with Ketchum officials on the portion of the city's sign ordinance governing the location of such signs, their duration and other regulations.




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