A mention of sign-code amendments on the March 19 agenda of Pataskala City Council brought out several local business owners eager to express their points of view.

A mention of sign-code amendments on the March 19 agenda of Pataskala City Council brought out several local business owners eager to express their points of view.

Council president Dan Hayes told them there was no danger of the amendments passing that night, but said they had been placed on the agenda to move the debate forward.

All council members agreed that the sign code should be returned to committee for further review and voted 6-1 to send it to the development committee. The dissenting vote was cast by council member Mike Fox, who said he had several changes in mind for the code. He said he preferred that an ad hoc committee be formed solely to address the sign code.

Regulation of sandwich-board signs, in particular, was a bone of contention.

Mayor Steve Butcher said some complained about the fee to display them; others thought there should be no fee at all. Some were concerned about the length of time they may display sandwich boards, and some want the right to have several sandwich boards. One person places signs at key locations all around the city to direct customers to his business.

Most agreed they don't consider sandwich boards to be "temporary" signage.

"They want the sandwich board removed from the temporary designation and made a regular sign and they don't want different rules for different areas of the city, like Old Village versus Broad Street," Butcher said.

Broadview Golf Course owner Matt Dixon said for years sandwich board signs were considered to be permanent signs that could be displayed year-round. Only recently was the code changed to make them temporary.

"We keep changing them and changing them," Dixon said in reference to the sign regulations. "You guys (council) have stated you want to be business-friendly. There are more changes against doing business."

Deanna Roshong, owner of Whistlepig Gallery, said the sandwich board has been key to the gallery's success, as it draws attention from people passing through and not just local residents. Connie's Cutz owner Connie Zeune agreed.

"I really, really need my sandwich board sign," she said.

Hayes assured them that council realizes the sign code has problems - to the extent that the city stopped enforcing it. A committee formed originally to review how long the signs could be displayed ended up making many more changes to the code that proved to be controversial, and the process eventually stalled.

He said the only way to get the process moving again was to bring a sign ordinance before council and put it back on course.

"Being on the agenda didn't mean the ordinance was ready to be passed," Hayes told the business owners.

Butcher said the signage issue has been frustrating for the city government.

"Signage is an issue that the city hasn't gotten right since it became a city," he said. He encouraged business owners to address council when they believe there's a problem.

"I've been doing this in excess of 25 years and I have yet to see a sign code that made everyone happy," Law Director Rufus Hurst said.

Council tabled the ordinance and sent it to the development committee.

Earlier in the meeting, Fox suggested amendments to the sign code, including referring to sandwich boards as "portable" signs rather than temporary. He added that the code should address the condition of the signs themselves, and not allow them to be displayed if they're in disrepair.