It’s taken more than a year, but the Kansas City Council on Thursday approved new rules to allow digital signs in residential areas.
It’s a measure aimed at allowing some schools, churches and other institutions to display digital signs without causing undue annoyance to neighboring residents.
“This is a good compromise,” said Councilman Ed Ford, who sponsored the change.
Until now, Kansas City has prohibited digital signs in residential neighborhoods. But after the North Kansas City school district inadvertently installed three signs where they weren’t allowed, Ford introduced an ordinance last May to try to accommodate those nonconforming signs.
That prompted an outcry from some neighborhood leaders who feared the proliferation of garishly lit signs flashing near their homes.
After many months of meetings and negotiations, the city has come up with rules that most — but not all — parties say they can support.
Digital monument signs would be allowed on church, school and other institutional properties with more than 15 acres, or 10 acres on a busy street. The regulations limit the signs’ brightness and hours they can be on, and the message can’t change more than once per hour.
The institutions must submit a sign plan for approval by the City Plan Commission and the City Council. Ford said the North Kansas City school district can use this ordinance to seek approval for its signs.
But the new law won’t solve a contentious issue with the Raytown school district, which has installed signs that violate the new rules at its schools within the Kansas City limits. City planners said the district has been ticketed for those illegal signs but is appealing those tickets.
Raytown argues that under state law, the school board — not the city — has final say over signs on school property.