|On November 1, 2011 the Council, by unanimous vote, adopted the new Flagstaff Zoning Code. With a document as complex as the Zoning Code, and despite staff’s best efforts and attention to detail, it was realized that some standards or issues would be incomplete or incorrect. Over the past two years, City planning staff, as well as staff that work with the Zoning Code on a regular basis (i.e. from the engineering, traffic, stormwater, housing or legal sections/divisions), have documented sections of the Code where possible amendments would be required.
Late last year Council adopted revisions to Division 10-20.50 (Amendments to the Zoning Code Text and the Zoning Map) as well as to Section 10-50.100.080.E of the Sign Regulations to allow for a sign for the Flagstaff Mall and Marketplace.
In a work session on March 11, 2014, Council directed staff to proceed with needed amendments to the Sign Regulations (Division 10-50.100 of the Zoning Code) as soon as possible with work on all other amendments to follow later in the year. It was also agreed that Council would submit their primary concerns and issues with the Sign Regulations to staff by the end of March for inclusion in the staff summary for the April 15th meeting. The concerns and comments received from some of the Council are included in the attachment, provided below, as is an analysis of these comments to identify pros and cons, as well as an overview of staff’s ideas for amendments to the sign regulations. The purpose of the sign regulations copied from Division 10-50.100 (Sign Standards) is also included in this attachment.
Summary of the History of Sign Regulation in the City of Flagstaff:
In the early 1960s and 1970s Flagstaff had an economy that was primarily tourist-based. At that time Route 66 (or Santa Fe Avenue as it was then called) drew travelers through the City, and thus hotels, motels, gas stations, and other businesses relied on large illuminated signs to attract attention, as well as billboards on the south side of Route 66. In later years as the interstate freeway system was completed around Flagstaff, local business owners fearing a loss of revenue from bypass traffic on I-40, utilized billboards along the interstate to attract attention and advertise their businesses. Flagstaff, therefore, became like many other cities and towns of that era, cluttered with competing signs that were in the eyes of some residents unappealing and distracting from Flagstaff’s natural beauty.
Through the early 1980s a local resident led a spirited effort to reduce sign clutter as it was realized that despite I-40 and previous fears that local businesses would not be successful the local economy was still growing. As the observatory was also concerned for light pollution from the signs, amendments to the City’s first sign regulations were adopted to reduce the height and area of commercial signs. This first regulation created a large number of grandfathered signs, some of which still exist today.
In the late 1980s and into the early 1990s over 30 billboards were located on land owned by the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad south of Route 66 between downtown and east Flagstaff. After much legal wrangling, the City prevailed in using the beautification portion of recently established BBB funds (1988) to purchase railroad right-of-way, and over a number of years, all of these billboards were eventually eliminated.
Staff has gleaned some interesting facts from studying past City of Flagstaff zoning codes which include:
The Flagstaff Consolidated Zoning Ordinance of 1949 only included sign regulations for the R1 (Single-family Residence) District. No sign regulations were established for any other zoning district, including commercial and industrial zones.
The City of Flagstaff Zoning Code of 1970 (as amended through the mid-1980s) allowed signs in commercial districts to range from 14 feet to 26 feet in height, based on the posted speed limit, 20 mph or less to 55+ mph, respectively.
The sign regulations in the 1991 Land Development Code were comprehensively updated in June 1997 to include the sign standards that have been in effect since then, and under which most new development applications and businesses have been reviewed and approved.
While there was some amendment and refinement to the sign regulations in the current 2011 Zoning Code, these standards are essentially the same as those adopted in 1997.
At the April 15, 2014 work session, staff will be seeking agreement and direction from the Council on needed amendments to Division 10-50.100 (Sign Regulations) of the Zoning Code.
The Sign Standards (Division 10-50.100) may be viewed on the Zoning Code webpage - www.flagstaff.az.gov/zoningcode. Scroll down to Chapter 10-50, and click on [Part 3] to view the sign regulations.
After staff has completed draft amendments for future review and approval they would be presented to the public for their comment and input. Further public comment will be facilitated when the amendments are presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission at a public meeting and a future public hearing for a recommendation of approval. Thereafter, the amendments will be presented to the Council for final approval. During this process it is possible that Flagstaff residents and/or the Planning and Zoning Commission may suggest additional amendments.