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DL sign law passes; no billboards downtown

The billboard discussion has been laid to rest. Finally.

After at least a year of meetings and discussion, the Detroit Lakes City Council voted unanimously to pass a second reading to amend the city ordinance relative to business signs, advertising sign and free standing signs, or billboards.

While a majority of the changes in the amendment were agreed upon after a sign committee recommended changes, the one issue that has been repeatedly discussed maybe wasn't even an issue to begin with.

"You're debating an issue that has not been an issue," Cyndi Anderson said. She served as chair of the sign committee and also serves on the city's planning commission.

The topic of discussion was to allow or not to allow billboards in the B-1, downtown business, district. The district stretches from Roosevelt Avenue to Holmes Street, Frazee Street to Union Street, including the new Gateway District.

And although it was debated for the last couple months, the ordinance had never allowed billboards in this section, and this was basically a clarification to clean up language in the ordinance.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen pointed out that this doesn't cover on-premise signs, and that businesses are allowed to have up to 300 square feet of signage on their property, depending on frontage space.

"When we say no, we don't know what the future brings," Alderman Ron Zeman argued. He has been advocating for allowing billboards in the B-1 district, saying it limits small business advertising.

Alderman GL Tucker said that's the point of the planning commission and variances, should the need arise.

"Have you been inundated with people wanting variances," Anderson questioned.


Zeman made a motion to amend the original motion to include the B-1 district. The motion died for lack of second, and the entire council (Walt Tollefson and Matt Brenk were absent) voted in favor of the original amendment.