Newton to consider new sign rules

Sidewalk signs are currently prohibited outside businesses in downtown Newton, but that could all change.

A measure that will be discussed during Newton City Council's meeting tonight proposes new rules for temporary signs in the city's central business district. Under the proposed ordinance, business owners could apply for an annual permit to display sidewalk signs outside their downtown storefronts.

The measure comes after city staff met with representatives from the Downtown Newton Development Association and the Newton Merchants Association, according to Newton Planner Max Sigler.

City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance during its regular meeting that begins at 7 p.m. at Newton City Hall.

The proposal, which was approved unanimously by the city's planning commission, stipulates that temporary, free-standing sidewalk signs must be not larger than two feet wide and three feet tall. They can also have no lights or moving parts.

Other conditions for sign placement included in the proposed ordinance include:

• One sign allowed per business, in addition to other allowable signs.

• The sign must be located directly in front of the building it serves and no more than one foot away from the front wall of the building.

• The sign must be positioned to meet Americans with Disability Act rules.

• The sign must be constructed of "substantial and quality materials that present a finished appearance and must be durable, sturdy and stable." They also must be weighted to withstand wind gusts or weather conditions.

• Windblown devices may not be incorporated in the signs.

• "Colors shall blend with and compliment the overall color scheme and design of the storefront." No "obtrusive" or Day-Glo colors are allowed.

• Signs can't be anchored to the sidewalk or chained to poles, newspaper vending boxes or other structures.

• "The planning director shall have the authority to order that sidewalk signs shall be removed in any case where the signage may produce distractions to motorists, threats to public safety, violent contrasts of materials or colors and intense and lurid colors or patterns..."

Newton City Council meetings are open to the public.