Council ordinance cuts out permit process in temporary sign installment

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LAPLACE — Cutting out the permit process is a (temporary) sign of the times in St. John the Baptist Parish.

According to the new sign ordinance, developers and new business owners no longer need a permit to put up a temporary sign announcing improvement of real estates, coming soon signs or signs advertising subdivisions of land that will be developed in the future. The only thing business owners must do is make sure their sign meets the proper size requirements. Construction signs cannot exceed 64 square feet and coming soon signs can not exceed 32 square feet.

Director of Planning and Zoning Angelic Keller proposed the ordinance to the Parish Council last week.

“All signs must still be erected or constructed in accordance with structural and safety requirements of the building and zoning codes,” Keller said.

The ordinance passed 6-3 with Councilman Lennix Madre, Councilwomen Cheryl Millet and Councilman Larry Snyder voting against it.

Millet was against the ordinance because it had no time limit for how long new business signs can be up.

“You have no teeth (to the ordinance), ” Millet said to Keller at the Parish Council meeting. “It will open the floodgates to people to put signs up with no purpose. There is no way to enforce it.”

Snyder explained he is not against the new sign ordinance in its entirety but is against the way it was written. The councilman agrees with Millet on the time limit and also does not like the fact there are two different sizes for signs.

“I asked the director of zoning and development to put a number on temporary, and I didn’t get that,” Snyder said. “I asked why one sign is larger then the other sign, and I didn’t get an answer on that. Because of that I told the director I wasn’t going to support the ordinance.”

Snyder explains the ordinance shouldn’t be open-ended because there is no time limit on temporary.

“One thing I have learned since I’ve been in office is that if you leave things open-ended it won’t be run right,” Snyder said.

Snyder knew the ordinance was going to pass but he wanted to share his opinion with Keller.

Keller said if a sign has been up for a few years and no new business has come, then it would be addressed at that point.

“This was our recommendation based on research that we did out of office on other jurisdictions,” Keller said. “Those jurisdictions didn’t have time frames, and my educated opinion is if there were problems in these other jurisdictions, they would  have posed a time frame on it.”

Keller feels the ordinance will help new businesses in the area.

“This ordinance is beneficial to both the parish and our business/property owners,” Keller said.

“It allows owners to erect certain temporary signs without going through the application process and for longer timeframes. It also helps to promote economic development in the parish by advertising new business.”

Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard agrees with Keller on the new ordinance.

“The intent of the ordinance is to assist businesses who are coming into the parish for the first time or announcing new construction, allowing them to advertise what business they are building,” Hotard said. “ To allow them do that without having to go through that bureaucracy of having a sign permit just to let people know their business is coming, I think, is a good thing.”

— By Raquel Derganz Baker