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Lake Saint Louis looks toward possible limits on business signage

Shop owners in Lake Saint Louis may need to consider advertising forms other than window signs if proposed legislation passes.

Lake Saint Louis merchants may face new requirements that may limit temporary signs or lettering on storefront windows.

The city is considering changes to its ordinance governing signage that may allow 20 to 25 percent of windows to be covered by temporary signs. The city’s Board of Aldermen discussed the changes at a work session on June 5.

Assistant City Administrator George Ertle outlined the possible changes and reviewed the city’s present sign ordinance that limits temporary signs to 30 days and allows signage to cover up to 75 percent of a merchant’s window. Ertle said he had reviewed sign requirements in neighboring municipalities and noted that other cities limit signs to covering just 20 to 25 percent of window space. However, aldermen were cautious about setting specific regulations.

Ertle said the city could amend its ordinance to follow requirements similar to those in other cities or enforce its present requirements more thoroughly, meaning long-existing signs may have to come down.

Ertle pointed out that there also are other factors to be considered, such as:

• how the city regulates electronic and store hours signs

• whether to allow stores with signage on their windows to be “grandfathered” and not forced to meet new requirements if changes are made to the city code

• how long would businesses have to come into compliance with new regulations

• what commercial areas would be affected by the new requirements

Though no actions were taken, Alderman John Pellerito [Ward 3] suggested some changes may be needed. “We’re starting to look like Hwy. K in O’Fallon,” he said.

Other aldermen had mixed feelings. Alderman Gary Turner [Ward 1], stressing that the city wants to encourage business, said, “The last thing I want to do is overregulate.”

Mayor Kathy Schweikert noted that some businesses have signage and letters on their windows that have been there a long time. Other aldermen asked if enforcement would take city staff away from other work.

City Police Chief Mike Force added that covering store windows also causes a challenge for police, because too much coverage means police officers cannot see inside the store particularly well when they are on patrol.

Markworth suggested that those merchants who may be out of compliance be allowed a certain amount of time to come into compliance with whatever regulations the city ultimately chooses, rather than being grandfathered.

“I think that would made the most sense,” Markworth said.

He added that any changes in the code requirements likely will have to go before the city’s planning and zoning commission for review and a recommendation to the board. He said city staff will develop some language for a new bill, though no date for further action was set.

“I just want us to use the common phrase ‘c-s’ – common sense,” Turner said.

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