Johnstown's sign code is about to be revised for the first time in 18 years.

Johnstown's sign code is about to be revised for the first time in 18 years.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing concerning the updated sign code beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3.

Village planner Jim Lenner has been working on Johnstown's sign code since October. He worked part-time on the project before he was hired as village planner in December.

"I took a sign inventory first, then started rewriting the sign code as part of planning and zoning," he said. "We've had at least one meeting per month to rework this."

The updated code is based on the village of Granville, with tweaks from the planning commission and local residents.

"We also met with the realtors a few weeks ago," Lenner said. "They have concerns about realty sign restrictions. It mostly affects the business people, because they are the ones erecting the signs."

The proposed updates provide clear definitions of what's allowed and what's prohibited in each district, according to Lenner.

"In some instances, businesses were asking about square feet for monument type signs and there was a lot of room for interpretation," he said. "The goal was to remove that as much as possible so people know what's required.

"The old code doesn't talk about temporary signs at all," he added. "I've worked with a few businesses to get some temporary signs removed."

The new code will give the village of Johnstown authority in getting prohibited signs down, Lenner said.

While the village can't order existing signs to come down, any new sign or one that is changed would have to comply with new regulations.

"We are prohibiting pole signs like the McDonald's and Burger King type of signs and allowing for a monument sign like Car Quest and Heartland Bank -- just to bring the eye level down to the ground," Lenner said. "It's safer to have people looking down on the ground than in (the sky)."

Five planning commission members also worked on the update, along with village manager Judy Edwards and Bill Van Gundy, former planning commission member who now serves on the Design Review Commission.

The final draft of the sign code states its purpose is to "promote and protect the public health, welfare and safety by regulating existing and proposed outdoor advertising, outdoor advertising signs and outdoor signs of all types."

According to Lenner, it is intended to protect property values, create a more attractive economic and business climate, enhance and protect the physical appearance of the community and preserve the scenic and natural beauty of designated areas.

The ordinance further states the code is intended to reduce sign or advertising distraction and obstruction that may contribute to traffic accidents, reduce hazards that may be caused by signs overhanging or projecting over public rights of way, provide more open space and curb the deterioration of the natural environment and enhance community development.

Whoever violates any provision of the code would be guilty of a minor misdemeanor and could be fined not more than $100 for each day the violation continues.

After the commission makes a recommendation to council, the revised sign code will receive three readings by council, including a public hearing.