MARCO ISLAND — There are very specific requirements for temporary signs for real estate for sale, model homes, and sales centers, community development director Bryan Milk told the City of Marco Island Planning Board on Friday – and they are being widely ignored.
With Chairman Dick Shanahan absent, Milk led the six remaining members of the board through a thorough, not to say lengthy, exposition of just what is permissible and what is not in signage, illustrating his talk with PowerPoint slides. Temporary signs, he told them, must be four square feet or less, no higher than three feet, with a white background and lettering in one color, and a corporate logo taking up no more than 20 percent of the sign area.
They must also be on the subject property, and within the correct setback. Directional signs, pointing traffic to a property or sales center, are another matter. Those must be within the right of way, and not on private property.
While enforcement of the signage rules has been deliberately lax during the last several years of economic downturn, in order to help boost home sales, members expressed their determination to get compliance. But first, they agreed, some outreach would be appropriate.
“Is it worthwhile to approach the Board of Realtors, and give them some education?” asked board member (and newly-anointed Marco Island Citizen of the Year) Monte Lazarus.
“Before we leash the sign Gestapo, we want to meet with the Realtors,” said vice chairman Jack Patterson, sitting in the chairman’s center seat. The sign Gestapo, in the person of code compliance officer Liz Carr, was sitting in the City Council chambers downstairs from the police headquarters at the government center on Bald Eagle Drive during the meeting, looking less menacing than the description.
“I can go to a brown bag luncheon” with the Realtors, she offered.
“It’s not educational. All the brokers know the rules. If they don’t know, shame on them,” said board member and real estate broker Marv Needles. “We haven’t slapped hands, and told people if you do it again, it’s going to cost you. It’s starting to look ratty out there.” Apart from the absent Shanahan, Needles is the only real estate professional on the Planning Board.
“We were going through rough times. We let our guard down a little,” said board member Bob Brown. Needles noted that three new model homes, in addition to eight single-family building permits, are a hopeful sign that the real estate climate is improving.
Balancing beautification and promotion proved a thorny topic. Frank Troester of Keller-Williams Real Estate spoke in favor of allowing additional directional signs.
“We’re talking signs, not balloons, windmills, or dancing clowns,” he said. How many signs, what size, and how long they would be allowed to remain were discussed, as well as the distinction between model homes, sales centers, and private homes for sale. Basically, said Needles, “it’s directional signs to a business.”
Currently, for model homes, signs can be permitted for two years, with consecutive one-year extensions adding up to a total of seven years. The signs may not be lighted, and must be removed at night.
Competitors, said Milk, are complaining about existing non-complying signs that are allowed to remain.
“If you say you have a code, you better enforce it,” he said. “If you allow him to continue, others will have them instantly.”
The Planning Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 6.