Sign ordinance revised, approved

Placing a temporary sign in unincorporated areas of Kosciusko County just became a little more simple.

On Tuesday, the county commissioners approved a slightly revised plan for the use of temporary signs that often involve real estate signs and ones that promote fish fries, political candidates and house maintenance contractors.

The biggest change involves a streamlining of rules for real estate signs, which make up many of the signs seen along roads.

Rules governing real estate signs previously involved a page and half of stipulations in the county’s overall sign ordinance.

Unanimous approval by the commissioners Tuesday came after slight changes were suggested last month when Assistant Planner Matt Sandy presented the plan.

The main changes are simple: Real estate signs will now be treated the same as other temporary signs. All signs need to be placed no closer than 10 feet from the driving surface of all roads.

Another provision involves what to do with signs that are found to be in violation. In the past, officials would try to contact the sign owner.
Under the new policy, signs found in violation will be disposed of and owners will not be contacted.

The updated proposal also requires approval of the property owner for any signs to be placed on the owner’s property.

Officials also decided to apply the policy to state roads. Originally, the proposal would have excluded state roads because related setback policies, often used as a guide for placing signs, vary too much.

Sandy said the plan office recognizes that state policy trumps local, but officials think it would be easier to treat all roads the same.

“Something important for the public to recognize (is) the state does have its own regulations and they may well pull the signs from the right of way,” Sandy said.

County commissioner Ron Truex called the changes a “great step forward” and said the county remains open to more changes in the future.

In other matters, the county accepted a recommendation on contracts for three upcoming road projects totaling nearly $1.6 million.

Phend and Brown, of Leesburg, was the lower bidder on all of the following road reconstruction plans:
• County Farm Road, between CRs 200S and 700S, is contracted for $1,098,795.
• Old 15, between Armstrong Road and Levi Lee Road, is contracted for $210,798.
• CR 350W, between U.S. 30 and Old 30, is contracted for $238,949.

The county recently received nearly $1 million in matching grant money from the state to help pay for the work.

Tilden said he hopes to get the work on the projects started as soon as possible and will convey an urgency to state highway officials when they meet on Sept. 19. He said he wants the work done this year, but that “could be pushing it.”