MASON CITY — Despite a mix of thoughts on the topic, the City Council in Mason City last night approved the first reading of an ordinance that would place further regulations on signs that include electronic message centers. The council recently pulled out a section dealing with the electronic signs that was originally grouped with a number of so-called “housekeeping” amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance.
In a memo to the council, Director of Development Services Steven Van Steenhuyse said the new amendment is less restrictive than what was previously submitted, but it still deals with brightness controls that automatically adjust the intensity of the light based on ambient light levels; prohibits full motion video or film; and no element of the display may flash more than one time per second. “We’re proposing some compromises that allow for the signs to utilize I would say the vast majority of their capabilities without allowing them to be distractive. We’re trying to limit the amount of flashing, the amount of rapid movement, so that the sign can be used at its capability without causing a distraction for drivers.”
Councilman John Jaszewski continued to be against the city doing any sort of regulation as proposed. “I’m still going to reiterate what I said at the last meeting. I think this is a solution looking for a problem. I don’t consider all this necessary and because of that, I would just as soon we just leave it alone, leave it as it is.”
Councilman Will Symonds says an amendment would help the city get out ahead of potential problems. “Having an ordinance like this allows us to kind of set an even bar for any businesses who are looking for signs.”
The council passed the ordinance on the first reading last night 5-1, with Jaszewski voting no. The second reading is scheduled to take place on December 15th.