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Marco Island City Council may allow signs in all rights-of-way

A temporary sign announcing an art show was located at the intersection of San Marco Rd. and N. Barfield Dr. in Marco Island on Oct. 3.

During the Oct. 25 meeting, Marco Island City Council passed a motion instructing staff to propose a code amendment that would regulate temporary signs in the right-of-way of commercial districts just like the city does in residential ones. 

In residential districts, these signs may be placed in the public right-of-way only between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to the Code of Ordinances.

The lack of sign regulation for commercial districts makes Code Enforcement unable to remove signs in the right-of-way, according to a Planning Board staff report.

"Clearly, the fact that commercial rights-of-way were not given a time-limit I think it is the big issue here," said city councilor Jared Grifoni. "So if we are going to treat residential and commercial rights-of-way the same then we should have the same time limit."

Marco Island city councilor Jared Grifoni said he has not heard any complaints about special event signs in the right-of-way since the council adopted a new sign ordinance in 2018. In the picture, Grifoni speaks at a council meeting on June 4.

The motion approved also instructs staff to specify what Code Enforcement will do with signs once they are found to be in violation.

Councilor Larry Honig and Grifoni said they would like Code Enforcement to be allowed to throw away signs that are in violation.

"You pick up a couple of my signs and throw them away, I got the message," Honig said

"Those signs are going to dry up pretty quick because that's a waste of money," Grifoni said

Councilors Charlette Roman and Howard Reed voted against the motion, which passed 5-2.

"I think there is a potential for sign pollution with all these signs going out, particularly in season," Roman said. "I'd like it to see it minimized to some degree."

"I believe that it is in the best interest of the city to ban almost all signs in the swales, in the public right-of-way,[...] both residential and commercial," Reed said. "These signs represent visual pollution and clutter."

During the discussion, councilors Victor Rios, Sam Young and Reed considered  prohibiting most signs in the right-of-way with some exceptions like realtor signs but city attorney Alan L. Gabriel said all signs have to be treated equally.

 "The Supreme Court said simply that all signs must be treated equally," Gabriel said. "It makes no difference what the content is."

On Oct. 7, the Eagle reported that the Planning Board postponed new sign regulation for commercial zones as the staff's original proposal brought up more questions than answers.

Members Joe Rola, Mike Finkle and Jason Bailey said they would prefer that signage would not be allowed in swales. 

"If I had it my way there wouldn't be any signage in the swales," Finkle said.

In case you missed it:Planning Board postpones new sign regulation for commercial zones in Marco Island