April 20, 1998

Local News

Council won't amortize billboards

  by Woodinville Weekly staff

   WOODINVILLE--The bus-sized signs the Marlboro man rides across won't be coming down in Woodinville anytime soon. During discussion of the proposed sign code last week, the Woodinville City Council shied away from setting a definite time period for taking billboards down. Mayor Don Brocha said that while he wanted nonconforming signs including billboards to come down, the city would instead tie their removal with redevelopment of property.
   The council had considered amortizing billboards, setting a time limit for the signs to be removed. But City Attorney Dawn Findlay, who advised that amortization clauses were generally upheld in court, also told the council that under state law companies with signs visible from state highways would have to be compensated if those placards were removed. Councilmember Bob Miller said amortization would be a big sinkhole for city dollars. "I don't want to throw money into litigation."
   The council also made amendments to other sign code regulations as well as asking for staff to come back with new language on some items. Among the changes:
   * allow Woodinville High School to operate their electronic sign 24-hours a day;
   * authorize certain off-premises signs with restrictions yet to be determined by staff;
   * strike all references to streetscape signage;
   * limit the height of post-mounted signs;
   * tie monument sign face area to landscaping requirements.
   City Manager Roy Rainey also suggested that signs be set back some distance from driveways so that motorists could better see up and down streets. The council is expected to have second reading of the sign code ordinance with all changes April 27. The ordinance would become law after second reading.