Archive for Thursday, February 20, 2003

Highway department could help with signage

February 20, 2003

Before making any sign ordinance changes or variances, the city should look at how the Kansas Department of Transportation might be able to help Eudora advertise its businesses -- especially those downtown -- from Kansas Highway 10.

At least that was one conclusion the city's Planning Commission reached as it continued discussion of highway signage at this month's meeting. City Administrator Mike Yanez said the City Council was asking the Commission to make a report on the issue.

Current city ordinances restrict businesses from using grandiose advertising media, like billboards, along the highway. As a downtown business owner, Council member Tom Pyle said such limitations hurt his and other businesses.

During its second round of discussion, the Commission focused on what seemed most important -- getting Eudora a general billboard sign or signs that would direct traffic off K-10 and toward the town's commercial properties, especially those downtown.

Pyle said he thought small business owners, such as himself, would be better able to afford to be part of a group sign than to place their own billboard on K-10.

The Eudora Chamber of Commerce is erecting similar signs at the city's entrance points on county roads: north and south on Douglas County 1061 and east and west on 442. Speaking as a business owner at the Commission meeting, Pyle said a K-10 billboard would allow business owners more visibility and more space to say something.

"People don't come to a phone number; people come to an address," he said.

The Commission talked about how Eudora already had the blue food and fuel signs along the highway. Yanez and Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen said one of the city's first steps should be to see what the highway department might be able to do about signage for Eudora businesses.

Another solution, Commission member Richard Campbell said, would be to stay with the K-10 Association's ordinance, which the city adopted, and simply make a variance for a main business sign.

"It could look haphazard if it's not regulated," he said.

It would be best, von Achen said, to have a sign on the east and west borders of Eudora along K-10. Council member Willene Blackburn, who was at the Commission's meeting, said she would favor a sign at Main and 10th streets designating downtown as a historical area.

"If they come to town to eat, you want them to have something to do," she said.

But Commission member Rose House said getting people to eat in Eudora was a problem.

"We've got restaurants open here that nobody knows about unless you live here," she said.

Pyle said he sensed a bias toward small, locally-owned businesses in the city's regulations of signage.

"If we had a Lowe's (hardware and building materials store) come in tomorrow, would you make them adhere to this ordinance?" he said. "People have to drive and look for me, and they can't find it.

"Somebody told me Eudora was the best-kept secret. Why are we keeping it a secret if our downtown businesses are empty?"

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