Mission council stands behind prohibition on pole signs in city; may consider accelerating removal

Pole signs, like this one along Johnson Drive, are no longer allowed to be put up in Mission.
Pole signs, like this one along Johnson Drive, are no longer allowed to be put up in Mission.

Mission will stand behind its prohibition on pole signs throughout the community and may act to speed up the removal of those that still exist.

Mission has 27 pole signs that still remain. Like most surrounding communities, new pole signs are largely banned. Some other cities also have given businesses with pole signs an amortization period in which to take down existing signs, a move that met with some approval from Mission City Council members discussing the sign regulation Wednesday.

Mission is in the process of a complete review of sign regulations and has just completed an inventory of existing signs. It is categorizing the violations found in the inventory to determine action it will take for compliance. City Administrator Laura Smith told the council that pole signs have been prohibited for a number of years, but that a couple of appeals on the prohibition have come up recently. She said the city has had complaints for years about signs in commercial districts, not just pole signs.

One of those appeals came from the owners of the Hobby Lobby building asking to use its sign for a new tenant. Mission code now requires that pole signs be eliminated as a business changes or the sign requires maintenance at more than 50 percent of value. A sign at the old Valero station on Johnson Drive will be coming down soon because of the change in business. A recent appeal to the BZA to reface a sign at the former Sinclair station on Johnson was denied.

“I don’t want any pole signs and I think we need to get rid of them,” said Councilor Amy Miller. The idea of phasing out the signs over a limited period of time had support from some other council members. Smith also had asked if exemptions should be continued for four pole signs that are allowed because of a special provision passed in 2009 that allowed signs within 1,000 feet of Johnson and Metcalf that were existing before 2003. That exemption was passed to accommodate a car dealership on Johnson Drive that is no longer operating.

Councilor Suzie Gibbs said Johnson Drive at one time had a number of roof signs, now prohibited by code and removed. “It looks cleaner,” Dave Shepard said, “when you go down Johnson Drive and don’t have pole signs.”

Shepard said he is sympathetic to the small business owner and likes the idea of providing incentives to bring down the pole signs. No vote was taken during the committee discussion.