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City of College Station reminding local businesses of business sign ordinance, educating before citing

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 19:16:13-04

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — The City of College Station says they have been sensitive to the struggles that loomed over local businesses and their operations, including sign regulations.

Some signs are allowed, but some aren't.

The sign ordinance has been in place for over 10 years. The City is giving ample time before enforcement action.

During the pandemic, to help businesses out, enforcement efforts were relaxed, now code enforcement officers are reeducating businesses about the ordinance.

Meet Julie Caler, a code enforcement officer for the City of College Station. She looks for city code violations.

"Whether it's weeds and grass, your trash cans being left out, open storage, or (like what we are talking about today) off-premise signs, temporary free standing signs, illegal signs," Caler said.

Enforcement officers say, the sign ordinance was relaxed, as they let residents throughout the community know, businesses were still here.

"Now that the Governor has opened everything up 100%, we are reminding our business that the sign ordinance is still there and that they need to comply with that ordinance," Caler added.

"We have a free-standing temporary off-premise sign at this intersection. Normally, we would contact this business, but since it [the business] is out of town we are just going to pick it up, since it is an illegal sign," Caler added.

Caler says the sign ordinance makes sure certain signs are permitted and the ones that aren't allowed, like small temporary bandit signs, are not out cluttering and causing visual pollution within the community.

"A sign that would have a permit would be this one right here. It's a permanent monument sign, usually those get permitted when the business comes in and wants to start up and have something permanent," Caler said. "Those beside it like the garage sale sign. . . those are not allowed at all."

"With garage sale signs we usually just pick those up, but the business signs, we try and make contact and let those businesses know these temporary bandit signs are not allowed," Caler said. "If they (residents) do put a garage sale up, we just ask to please take it down once your garage sale is over."

If the City finds signs are in violation of the ordinance, they try to educate before trashing.

"For local businesses that do have those signs out, we do try to talk to them and educate them and let them know that the sign ordinance does exist, it is in the UDO and you can find that on the city's webpage and if they could just remove those signs we would be really grateful," Caler said.

"The owner knew that the laws got relaxed.. You know, just kinda waiting for the reinforcement to say 'hey pick up those signs' so now I am doing it," Cailtin Hennessey, general manager at Solt said.

Signs within a business lot or complex property are allowed, but just not against the right of way or road creating a hazard.

One sign at a time, Caler is removing distractions and hazards against right of ways within our streets.

Caler says local businesses in violation will get a call or a visit from their local code enforcement officer, explaining and reminding them of the ordinance and give them around a week to pick up their sign(s).

From there, they will follow up and if the signs are still there, the city does have the option to write a citation, which Caler says is up to a judge and could be a maximum of $500.

"We want compliance. Citations are not our first option. That is not what we strive to do. We strive for education. The last thing we want to do is issue that citation," Caler said.

According to the city's website:

"The ordinance covers everything from the small bandit signs you see on the street corners to banners and flags. It prohibits portable and trailer signs, as well as freestanding signs. Off-premises signs such as billboards aren’t allowed, either. To use commercial banners, businesses must apply to the city for a permit ($200 fee) and ensure the permit number is visible in the lower right-hand corner. The permits allow banners for a maximum of 14 days."

If you are unsure if you need a permit, contact planning and development services at (979) 764-3570.