Champlin temporarily turns lights out on new electronic signs

Champlin City Council has agreed to a six-month moratorium on installation of new electronic signs within the city. In his presentation to the council, City Planner Scott Schulte cited the desire to evaluate the current signage in the city, review new technology and analyze how other cities are addressing the issues.

Electronic signage is not a new topic for the council. In response to community aesthetic and driver safety concerns, in 2007 Champlin adopted regulations for electronic message signs. The regulations permitted electronic message signs subject to message duration, message transition, sign brightness, sign size, and sign location parameters.

The sign code was then amended in 2008 to require electronic message signs as conditional uses.  The change was advocated by the city council as a way of tracking the signs and ensuring compliance via the conditional use permit process.

“These decisions,” said Schulte, “haven’t always been unanimous [by the council.]”

Schulte stated in his report to council that regulations have proven effective at controlling the negative externalities associated with electronic message signs. However, staff has noted issues as to how the code speaks to multi-tenant building signage. A recent applicant of this nature raised some questions regarding the clarity of the city’s code.

During the moratorium, the city will conduct a study of the regulations governing electronic message signs. The study will include an analysis of the existing supply of electronic message signs and an update of neighboring community regulations. The interim ordinance serves as a “time-out” allowing the city to step back and evaluate existing regulations.