No vote is held during tonight's Evansville-Vanderburgh County Area Plan Commission meeting, only a discussion over the big changes many hope to make on a city ordinance.
It all stems from some local businesses who were fined after placing signs in front of their shops. A temporary group was formed after city leaders agreed the current sign ordinance needed some changes. The group was asked to make a new ordinance that makes more sense for small businesses owners. They presented the proposal, but no decisions were made.
Who would have thought, a small businesses' sign, would lead to some big changes. "It was our sandwich sign, that advertised our lunch specials, that got the whole thing started," says Franklin Street Businesses Representative Cindy Reitz. A few months ago, Reitz, manager at the Gerst Haus, received a fine for that sign. The fine was six-hundred dollars. "Furious." It came as a shock. The fine stemmed from an Evansville sign ordinance that has rules, and restrictions, most businesses are unaware of. Reaching out to other businesses, Reitz realized they were not alone. "That's what drew us together, and that's what made us decide to do something," says Reitz.
Fast forward to the Area Plan Commission meeting, "We are happy walking out of here so far," the plan for a change is well on it's way. "This is the community's ordinance, not Area Plans. It's for the entire community to be involved in this," says Ron London. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke stepped in forming a committee that is led by Area Plan Commission Executive Director, Ron London. "We want to make sure everybody has the time to take this in, so we can get plenty of input," London adds.
The temporary group is made up of small business owners, sign companies, Keep Evansville Beautiful , and the Chamber of Commerce. Together they made changes to the current ordinance, and presented those changes to the Commission, but no vote was taken. "I think it was a good discussion. It sounds like everyone is really happy with the way it's written," says London. They used the meeting to hear feedback and input. Even though no final decision was made, the hope for change was. "They really listened to what we had to say, and were concerned because small businesses are important for Evansville, and I think they wanted to help all of us," says Reitz.
London says the group hopes to formulate a final ordinance by April. They are hoping for more feedback over the next couple of months before taking a vote. The public can view the ordinance proposal at www.evansvilleapc.com