by Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES -- City leaders may help business owners with the costs of replacing their existing signs to comply with a more restrictive sign ordinance.
The City Council recently discussed the idea of establishing an incentive grant program to help business owners with the cost of replacing, eliminating or altering existing pole and ground signs to conform with changes to the city's sign regulations restricting business owners to monument signs.
The new sign regulations were narrowly approved in April despite opposition from many business owners, who felt it would be too costly to replace the signs and could result in people driving on A1A having a hard time finding a business. A majority of council members felt the pole and ground signs that exist today distracted from the city's streetscape improvements.
Under the terms of the new regulations, business owners have 10 years to alter or remove their signs to comply with the mandatory monument sign requirements. But to encourage a speedier pace in bringing the signs to code, City Planner Stewart Cruz said council members approved $18,000 in their budget for the current fiscal year to provide funding to business owners that would assist in the costs.
"This is essentially a program that would hasten the removal or alteration of nonconforming signs into conformity to have a maximization of (the taxpayers' investment in) the underground utility project," Mr. Cruz said.
According to city staff, 146 of the 179 freestanding signs -- around 80 percent of all signs in the city -- will have to be altered or removed to conform to the mandatory monument sign requirements.
Under the proposed terms of the program, a business owner qualifies for a matching incentive grant -- where the city and business owner split the bill 50-50 to replace the sign -- if the business has a pole or ground sign made nonconforming due to the new sign ordinance and serves to advertise an onsite business on a property adjacent to A1A or Dunlawton Boulevard. Applications would be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.
The City Council plans to formally establish the program by resolution at a later date, which has not yet been determined. Once approved, City Manager Mike Booker said he would mail out a notice to the business owners informing them of the matching grant program.
Mayor Harry Jennings said the incentive program is aimed at improving the condition of the streetscape along A1A.
"It's going to be an additional enhancement to the city when this is all finalized," he said.
In other business, council members approved an ordinance updating the city's land development code to include fees for false alarm response. City code defines a false alarm as an alarm responded to by the city's public safety department that was activated through "inadvertence, neglect, accident, unannounced testing, and faulty installation or maintenance."
According to city documents, there would be no charge for the first three false alarms in a calendar year, while the fourth would result in a fine of $50, each false alarm after the fourth carries a fine of $100, and failure to appear and reset the alarm within one hour of being notified of the alarm sounding is $20.
Mr. Booker said his staff would actively promote the ordinance to inform residents of the new fees.
"We're going to be lenient at first coming in," Mr. Booker said. "We're not just going to put the hammer down."