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Sandwich boards, mannequins prompt Deadwood to revisit sign, merchandise display ordinances

November 14, 2018

DEADWOOD — Sandwich boards and mannequins inspired Deadwood City Commission discussion Nov. 5.

A staff request for guidance prompted talk of two current ordinances — disallowed signs and display of merchandise — with the commission ultimately deciding to revisit the ordinances, setting forth enforcement guidelines.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Bob Nelson, Jr. said the city has neglected to enforce the ordinance and that code infractions related to free-standing sandwich signs and display of merchandize on the exterior of buildings are mainly taking place on Main Street.

“I’m asking if you want to stay with the way the ordinance reads today and if that’s the case, I would like Quentin (Riggins, city attorney) to draft a resolution giving me the authorization to write citations, specifically to the sign ordinance,” Nelson said.

Sandwich board signs within the historic district are not allowed, according to city code.

“However, sandwich board signs can be allowed if proof of property line is provided and the sign is at least three feet from the right-of-way line,” Nelson said.

“There are to be no exceptions to this ordinance as it is today,” Nelson added about the display of merchandise on or outside any structure in the historic district. “Staff has received complaints regarding the mannequins in regard to covering up other businesses’ signs in the windows.”

Commissioner Dave Ruth said the reason the topic was brought forth on the agenda for discussion purposes, due to the increase in frustration on his part.

“We’ve been talking about sandwich boards since last spring. I continually bring it up to planning and zoning we continue to talk, and you’ll notice that unauthorized signs have proliferated terribly over the course of the last six to nine months,” Ruth said. “Mannequins, or different forms of mannequins, now on different streets for different businesses and now we’re starting to see flag banners. We’re starting to see these deviations and when I asked why we’re not being successful in enforcing our ordinances, which clearly disallow these signs, it was brought to my attention that, perhaps, it’s because we don’t have a clear path on … who the person is who is going to enforce this.”

He described it as a safety hazard, stating that at the last big event, he was walking through the crowd down to where there was a free concert on Main Street and almost tripped in front of one of the businesses because of a sandwich board.

“Which nobody could read, because it was packed with people around it, but you still almost fell over it because it was in the right-of-way,” Ruth said.

“An ordinance is only as good as the enforcement,” said Commissioner Gary Todd, suggesting that perhaps a uniformed officer should accompany Nelson when he issues citations.

Nelson said he is comfortable enforcing the ordinance.

“If we move forward, personally, I would like to see that every single business on Main Street and other places be given a copy of these ordinances and given the opportunity to comply,” said Commissioner Sharon Martinisko. “I know that many of these people already know these ordinances, however, I think it’s due diligence that we give them a copy of the ordinance and give them that opportunity before we bring it forward with citations.”

Nelson said he would work with Riggins on an amendment to the current sign ordinance.

“The penalty clause will have to change,” Nelson said.

“And we’ll have opportunity and the public will have opportunity to come and voice their concerns,” Ruth said.

The Planning and Zoning commission has been working on revisions to the sign ordinance.

“We’re not here to deter businesses,” Todd said.

“We’re here to protect the public,” Martinisko said.

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