Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hailey could go back to vinyl signs

Questions loom over city’s plan for electronic displays

Express Staff Writer

    Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle’s dream of bringing electronic messaging signs to Hailey may not come true after all.
    After months of discussion, ordinance drafting and two vehement denials by the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the electronic signs, the Hailey City Council is ready to take another look at old-fashioned vinyl lettering signs, which would have to be controlled manually.
    “It would be better than nothing,” Haemmerle said at a City Council meeting Monday. “I think electronic signs look better.”
    Haemmerle spearheaded an effort to amend the city zoning ordinance to include electronic messaging signs after a Blaine County school official requested information on the city’s policy for allowing them in front of Wood River Middle School.
    The School District was not granted permission to use the signs, which some think are out of keeping with the town’s aesthetic. Other critics have said they are distracting to drivers, and may open the floodgates for many more electronic signs around Hailey.
    “I just don’t see the support for this,” said Hailey resident Peter Lobb.
    The Hailey P&Z voted unanimously twice not to recommend the electronic signs, even after the mayor and City Council moved to have them allowed under a conditional-use permit in select areas under a proposed new “Information Overlay District.”
    The overlay district would have allowed only the city to erect electronic messaging signs at three places, on the north and south ends of town.
    Haemmerle had city officials post a temporary electronic messaging sign at the Hailey skatepark last summer and take comments from passersby, in order to gain public support. The 27 comments received came in almost exactly split over the issue, with one vote placing the majority in favor of them.
    On Monday, questions still loomed.
    “Is this really necessary?” Lobb said. “All of this costs money. I see it as very top down.”
    Councilwoman Martha Burke asked if there is a way to make vinyl signs look better.
    Councilwoman Carol Brown called for city staff to bring forward options for a vinyl sign at Werthheimer Park.
    The options will be presented to the City Council at a meeting on Dec 16.

    In other Hailey news:

  • The Hailey City Council voted not to spend $50,000-$75,000 in engineering materials to design a biosolids plant, until and if a $3 million to $5 million bond proposal passes in favor of rebuilding the city’s waste water treatment facility.
  • The City Council authorized a $61,000 expenditure from local-option tax revenue to the Hailey Chamber of Commerce for marketing and promoting business activity.

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