Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsla Clarion Signs for various businesses line the Sterling Highway on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. City staff in Soldotna have begun the process to revise the town's sign code, which could mean a few changes down the road for business owners.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsla Clarion Signs for various businesses line the Sterling Highway on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. City staff in Soldotna have begun the process to revise the town's sign code, which could mean a few changes down the road for business owners.

Soldotna launches sign code revision

The many banners, marquees and signs, illuminated and otherwise, that direct people moving through Soldotna to the town’s various businesses could see some potential tweaks in the future as the city prepares to revise its sign code.

Members of the Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission met for a work session directly after their regular meeting Wednesday to discuss the code, the process for revising it and what sign-related issues they would like to see tackled in that revision. The code, which lies in chapter 15.08 of the Soldotna city code, was last updated in 2013, though City Planner John Czarnezki said the last major revision was back in 2007.

Czarnezki presented to the commission issues city staff has found with the current sign code, such as contradictions and numerous entries in the code’s definition section that don’t come up again throughout the code text.

“There’s just lots of inconsistencies,” Czarnezki said of the code. “It’s also been amended a number of times from an old start and it doesn’t address some of the newer technologies that we want to look at. It also doesn’t adequately address … there’s been a lot of Supreme Court cases on signage and free speech and we need to bring our code into this century and make sure that it passes a legal test.”

Electronic and illuminated signs were brought up numerous times throughout the work session and several commission members noted that the city will likely see an increase in those signs in the coming years, and expressed their wishes to make sure they are well regulated in the sign code.

Updating the sign code is listed as a “high priority” in Soldotna’s comprehensive plan. Czarnezki said city staff have been talking about revising it for a long time and that it was a matter of finding time between administrative staff and the commissioners.

Czarnezki has put together a template of what the revised sign code could look like in outline form, and commission members will go through the template topic by topic during upcoming work sessions, which will all be open to the public. He said he hopes to have the code revision complete within a year. The commission will hold work sessions following its regular meetings at least once per month, twice per month if possible, he said. Commissioners noted working on the code will be more difficult during summer months when they tend to have more issues and requests to review.

“If we get a bunch of permits that come in the door, it’s going to set us back,” Czarnezki said. “If we have special projects we’re working on, it’s going to set us back. We’re taking advantage of every minute we have and trying to get it rolling.”

One reason the code revision process will take significant time is that it will require more public input compared to revising other sections of code, Czarnezki said. Much of Wednesday’s work session was devoted to brainstorming ways to include business owners and city residents in the process.

Commission member Kaitlin Vadla emphasized the importance of inviting general members of the public to give their input, since they are the ones looking at the signs and moving throughout the community. She suggested including somewhere in the code wording that takes into account pedestrians and cyclists when regulating signs.

“It’s big in the sense that the sign code … affects so many people,” he said. “It affects the entire community.”

Commission members debated how to best reach out to local business owners to gather their feedback. The work sessions will be informal in the sense that those who attend will not need to wait to give formal testimony, like at a council meeting, but can chime in with suggestions throughout the discussions.

“We want to make sure because … it has such a big effect that we reach people and that they have participated and feel comfortable with it,” Czarnezki said.

At the commission’s next work session, members will work on finding the best title in Soldotna’s city code for the sign code to fall under, as well as go over the code’s purpose and intent and its relationship to state law, among other code components. The commission meets in Soldotna City Hall at 5:30 p.m. every other week.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsla Clarion A mix of tradtional and electric signs line the Sterling Highway on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. City staff in Soldotna have begun the process to revise the town's sign code, which could mean a few changes down the road for business owners.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsla Clarion A mix of tradtional and electric signs line the Sterling Highway on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. City staff in Soldotna have begun the process to revise the town’s sign code, which could mean a few changes down the road for business owners.

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read