Hilliard officials have a preferred sequencing for the construction of "gateway" signs throughout the city.

Hilliard officials have a preferred sequencing for the construction of "gateway" signs throughout the city.

Service Director Butch Seidle outlined the various projects, estimated costs and the administration's prioritized list at City Council's Planning, Projects and Services Committee meeting Oct. 29.

The gateway signs would be placed at entrances into the city, major intersections and landmarks, Seidle said.

Such arches have been constructed at the city's northern entrance on Britton Parkway, where Hilliard borders Columbus just south of Tuttle Crossing Boulevard, and on Main Street in Old Hilliard.

Sixteen public locations have been identified, as well as four private sites.

The estimated cost of constructing gateway signs at all 16 locations is $1.13 million, Seidle said.

"We want to know if council generally concurs with our approach to the list," Seidle said.

All 16 projects are included in Hilliard's Gateway Sign Plan and are part of the city's five-year capital-improvement projects schedule, though City Council will determine its funding level each year.

The administration has proposed a budget of $76,200 for gateway signs in 2014. It originally sought a $50,000 gateway-sign appropriation.

City Council has yet to approve the requested amount, but could do so when members consider the operating budget and capital-improvement budget at meetings in December.

"I think it is a fair and reasonable increase," Councilman Nathan Painter said.

No. 1 on the administration's list is a gateway sign on Scioto Darby Road at the entrance to the Hilliard Ohio Soccer Association complex near Cosgray Road. The estimated cost of the gateway sign is $26,200, Seidle said.

No. 2 on the list is a sign at Cemetery Road and Norwich Street. It would replace the "Old Hilliard District" ground signs with additional tagging for the city's "business district." The estimated cost is $59,200.

Other sites high on the list, in order of priority, are: Cosgray Road at Homestead Park, marking the city limit; a pair of signs on the Cemetery Road bridge over Interstate 270; and the roundabout at Britton Parkway and Hayden Run Road.

Seidle suggested the city also complete smaller projects farther down the list, or make other upgrades to utilize the remainder of a given year's budget, once one of the more costly projects is completed.

"If we have $6,000 left over and I can't do a new sign, we could use that amount to upgrade other signs in the city," Seidle said.

Two of three projects are expected to be completed each year, Seidle said.

Regarding the four gateway signs desired on private property, Seidle said, the projects would likely take longer as the city explored shared-cost arrangements for their construction.

Codes and standards study

In other action at the Planning, Projects and Services Committee meeting, Aaron Domini, a senior planner with OHM Advisors, spent about an hour outlining a proposed amendment to the city's zoning codes and engineering standards.

The city contracted with OHM Advisors to study the zoning codes and engineering standards and proposed amendments and updates. The total cost of the contract is $300,000: $175,000 in 2013 and $125,000 in 2014.

Domini suggested presenting a draft copy to City Council in December, but City Council members opted to wait until January to review the material because two new members will be seated in 2014.

Domini outlined new standards for a commercial district for Cemetery Road to create improved "consistency and design" and "quality standards" in the corridor.

He also suggested reducing the number of planned-unit development classifications in the city.

Domini said updates could include, if the city desired, an overlay district for Interstate 270.

"Setback requirements should also be changed," said Domini, resulting in fewer instances of homeowners having to obtain variances for decks and patios.

"If (a deck or patio) isn't changing the character of a neighborhood, it should not require a variance," Domini said.

The proposed changes, Domini said, are meant to make Hilliard more "competitive and attractive" to developers.