The Johnstown Planning and Zoning Commission held a work session Wednesday night to talk about changes to the village's recently adopted sign code.

The Johnstown Planning and Zoning Commission held a work session Wednesday night to talk about changes to the village's recently adopted sign code.

The group also addressed rumors about whether various zoning changes being evaluated under the village's strategic plan would be mandatory or optional.

Village planner Jim Lenner said property owners are always entitled to continue to use their land as they are currently using it.

"It is completely up to the property owner to rezone," Lenner said. "The village cannot mandate that if someone is living in a house and it were to change.

"There was miscommunication that any current use would have to cease," he said. "That's not the case. Even if it is rezoned that doesn't happen. It's up to the property owner to rezone."

What the plan does do is address the fact that the village is changing, and by recognizing those changes, makes it easier for property owners to obtain zoning changes in the future if they choose to do so.

"You look at the entire village, where it's at now, and where it may be in 15 or 20 years, and you try to say what makes sense where," said commission chair Phil Burgel. "That way people have an idea about what is easier to (obtain rezoning for). Some of the rumors that were getting back to us are that some people thought they would be forced to go commercial. That is not happening at all.

"It's just a guide," Burgel said. "It does not mean something has to happen, it just says that these uses are common sense, so if the individual owner agrees and wants to do that, it's easier for them to do it because the village has already said it makes sense."

The commission also discussed the application of its new sign code. The current code allows monument signs to be slightly taller than they are wide, at a ratio of 120 percent.

However, Huntington Bank is adopting new signage at all its banks, and its signs are expected to be very narrow and very tall. So even though the sign meets the village's square footage requirements, the sign is much taller than the 120 percent ratio.

The commission recommended changing the code to eliminate the ratio and instead create maximum width, height and area requirements.

"We want to keep the signs in scale with the property or business that is being promoted," Burgel said. "You don't want a big, 200-square-foot sign on a small fifth-acre site. You don't want a humongous sign on a small business."

The commission also discussed temporary signs for businesses that seek to have periodic sales or promotions. The commission will recommend that the village council allow temporary signs for up to 15 consecutive days, four times per year, at any given business, so long as a permit is applied for and size restrictions are met.

The next regular meeting of the commission is Dec. 1.