Baltimore County Council wants more time to consider amendments to signs bill

April 02, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council has taken 30 years to revise its sign law -- but most council members say they need a few more days to make up their minds about a bill that would restrict the size, number and kinds of signs in the county.

Among the possible changes to the bill, which is up for a vote Monday, are amendments ensuring that homeowners could continue to fly decorative banners and clarifying the restrictions on billboard locations.

"I'd like to see some changes," Council Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, said yesterday, adding that he wants to ease restrictions on temporary signs.

The bill is sponsored by the council's two Republicans -- Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley and Owings Mills-North County Councilman T. Bryan McIntire -- and is designed to reduce visual clutter along commercial corridors by limiting the number of signs on businesses and in neighborhoods.

It would outlaw most roof signs, pennants, streamers and portable signs and would freeze the number of billboards in the county. Business owners would have 15 years to comply and could petition for exemptions if their signs are distinctive.

Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, said he would seek more lenient regulations for temporary signs and wants to address concerns raised by Penn Advertising of Baltimore Inc. The sign company supports the bill but wants provisions for "tri-vision" signs that display three different messages and pictures, said the company's lawyer, Stanley Fine.

The company also wants clearer language in the section that regulates the location of billboards.

The bill has the support of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said Frank D. Boston III, director of government relations for the organization. The Realtors are especially pleased that the county will lift the ban on "sold" signs outside homes, he said.

The county's largest business group, the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, has taken no position on the bill.

At a council work session yesterday, the bill was evolving as the planning office introduced several amendments, including a clarification that homeowners could continue to fly decorative banners.

Baltimore County has tried several times since 1968 to overhaul its sign law -- enacted in 1954 -- and each time has failed. While community organizations protested the proliferation of signs and banners, business groups resisted attempts to curb commercial signs.

Pub Date: 4/02/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.