- June 11, 2018
Proposed changes to Longboat Key’s sign regulations don’t thrill Realtor Thomas Fynes.
He has company.
Fynes was one of about 25 people who attended an open house at Town Hall on Tuesday morning to discuss the possible changes. Like Fynes, many real estate agents in the room were vocal in their opposition.
“It’s really hindering us terribly,” Fynes said.
At the center of the changes is a 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that set aside sign rules based on content. Cities and towns around the nation, Longboat Key included, got to work revising regulations to comply.
Longboat officials ultimately concluded an overhaul was needed, relying on size, location and style instead of message.
“We have all struggled with how to ensure that our ordinances comply with the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray.
Tuesday’s discussion focused on temporary signs, such as those used to alert the passing public to homes for sale, open houses, candidates for public office, garage sales, construction projects and special events.
The proposed revisions the town discussed on Tuesday allow for two such signs on private property, each with a maximum area of 4 square feet. The rules would also prohibit signs on rights of way and require 30-day, renewable permits.
Open house signs were of particular concern. If an agent wanted to place such a sign along Gulf of Mexico Drive to advertise an event in Country Club Shores, the agent would need to place that sign on private property. With two such signs permitted, only two open houses within that neighborhood could be advertised.
Based on the reaction and comments at Tuesday’s event, the Planning and Zoning Board will hear new recommendations at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 20.
Among the recommendations:
Staff will also recommend allowing additional signs during some weekend hours, which are prime time for open houses.
The Town Commission will have the final say, and Ray said that could be as early as this fall.
At the meeting’s end, Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren urged those in attendance to remain involved in the discussion by attending relevant town meetings.
“Only you will be able to relay what is necessary for your business,” Loefgren said. “I would follow this ordinance all the way through to the end. Make your voices heard.”