HELENA — City of Helena staff are working on something that could change how signs in the city look. After more than two decades, the city’s sign ordinance is getting updated.
“The sign code is supposed to enhance the aesthetics of the city, it’s supposed to drive business and it’s supposed to improve health and safety, like anything with zoning,” City of Helena planner II Michael Alvarez said.
The sign code covers almost all signs within city limits, except traffic signs, signs along I-15 and signs in downtown Helena, which has its own recently-updated code.
The city’s current code was adopted in 1997, and a lot has changed since then. The current code does not handle digital signage nor lighting standards, also Alvarez said recent Supreme Court rulings have necessitated updates to the code.
“Some recent Supreme Court rulings require content neutrality out of our sign code,” Alvarez said.
Public comment is an important component of the sign code revision process. Alvarez said the city needs to know what works and what does not in the code. For example, there is a provision to sunset in-town billboards in 10 years.
“Really, it’s about getting feedback on it if this is even a direction that should be pursued,” Alvarez said.
A draft of the revised code is expected to come out next week, and Alvarez said that is a great time for people to give feedback on the code so the zoning commission and planners can incorporate input into the code before it goes in front of the city commission.
The goal is to have the revised code passed by the city commission in March.
Information about the sign code, meeting dates and times and ways to give feedback can all be found at beheardhelena.com.