DALLAS — The Dallas City Council moved forward with approving revisions to its sign code; however, at least one councilor still had questions regarding the new regulations.
Following the introduction of an ordinance approving the revisions at the Feb. 3 meeting, Councilor Jackie Lawson asked about limitations on “oversized signs.”
The code limits them to 125-square feet — and that includes signs on billboards or painted onto buildings.
“I’m thinking about some pretty large buildings in town. That is very small proportionate limit on signage for wall signage,” Lawson said. “My proposal would be to strike that last line and keep it at the 20 percent of the square feet of the face of the building.”
Planning director Scott Whyte said the limitation is tied to the definition of oversized sign.
“One of the difficulties again with content neutrality is figuring out how to deal with billboards,” Whyte said. “An oversized sign is basically a billboard. We have to establish a limit without necessarily prohibiting billboards. A lot of cities are making this particular change. There are workarounds for business owners. They can do two signs.”
He said that limitation doesn’t apply to murals, which are regulated in the municipal code.
“These are actually flexible standards and there is a lot of signage with what you have here.” Whyte said.
City Attorney Lane Shetterly interrupted the discussion to say that the debate should be limited to the text of the ordinance because the council already voted to approve the code revisions.
“Technically, the code isn’t in front of you tonight. The ordinance is in front of you, and the question is, does the ordinance reflect the approval that you gave last meeting?” he said. “You’ve already acted on the code. It’s procedural.”
City manager Brian Latta said questions the council asked staff to resolve when approval was given were regarding roof signs and some wording changes in the code. Any debate should be limited to whether those changes were reflected correctly in the ordinance.
“If there are things to be revisited, it would be looking at those items,” Latta said.
Lawson said that’s why the council has first and second readings of the ordinance, to make sure the code is clear.
Shetterly disagreed, saying the first and second readings are regarding the ordinance, not the code that was already approved.
“We don’t just keep revisiting the code itself every time the ordinance comes up,” Shetterly said. “This is a one-page document that says that you approved the code that you’ve already approved. It’s not a continued hearing and deliberation on the code itself. You voted last meeting.”
Mayor Brian Dalton asked the council if it had any more concerns with the ordinance or the code.
“Are you content with the changes you made?” he said.
Several councilors indicated they were satisfied with the code.
“I’m seeing some head nods. Let me go ahead and declare the ordinance 1829 to have passed its first reading,” he said.
The ordinance will be before the council for a second reading on Tuesday.