Wellington Council Approves Signing Code Changes to Comply with Recent Case Law
Wellington Village Council on Tuesday, April 12, gave preliminary approval to an ordinance amending the village’s signage code to comply with new case law regulations.
Director of Planning, Zoning and Building Tim Stillings said the ordinance responds to recent court rulings that require signs to be content-neutral to avoid being unconstitutional.
“This update ensures that the regulations focus on the location, size and number of signs,” he said. “It has also been revamped and restructured to stand on its own in the event of a legal challenge, and a section on a sign permit process has also been included in this chapter so that all aspects of sign regulations be gathered in the same place.”
Vice Mayor John McGovern said he felt allowing window signs to cover 50% of the area of store windows was too much.
“I personally think that’s too much and potentially getting abused in some areas of the village,” McGovern said, explaining that part of the ordinance states that multiple storefronts can be considered a single window. “If someone has eight windows, they can cover all four. I don’t think it’s like any other sign described in this section of code as far as size goes…and I don’t think it’s intended. I will not vote for this unless this sentence is deleted.
He requested that the change be made before the second and final reading of the ordinance.
Stillings said the clause had always been code, but it was moved to this section to make it clearer, adding that some companies have been before the Architecture Review Board asking for more than 50%. He added that the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board had recommended approval.
McGovern also had trouble with the 30-day limit before an election on how long political signs can be placed in residential yards.
“Particularly in an election where a significant number of voters – and more than half of our voters in the last election voted by mail – under this provision you are not allowed to put up a placard in your yard when the ballots are in someone’s hands. , because ballots are mailed out well before 30 days before the election,” he said. “Any time a voter has a ballot, one should be allowed to campaign against that voter.”
Councilman Michael Napoleone moved a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance with proposed changes that evening to be incorporated by second reading, which passed 4–1 with McGovern opposed.
In other matters, the board approved master plan amendments for the Blue Cypress area of the Palm Beach Polo community to alter approximately 28.25 acres in three modules of the partially completed development.
The amendments change the type of unit in Module 65B from lot line zero to single family lot line zero, reduce the number of dwelling units from 140 to 136, decrease the density from 4.99 units to dwelling per acre at 4.82 and transfer 56 units from the 4.63-acre Parcel B to the 1.42-acre Parcel G-1 immediately to the north, leaving 14 units in Parcel B.
Stillings said the original site plan approved in 2000 was for 140 units. In 2007, a development order was approved to transfer 14 units from Module 65B of Blue Cypress to Module 68A of Cypress Island.
“There have been changes to the 65B over the years,” Stillings said. “There was a change reducing the density by 140 [dwelling units] at 136. The request changes the type of unit, it was initially assigned to a zero lot line, but they introduce only one family in this particular plot, and the unbuilt units are transferred to another module, and because that’s more than 30 percent of the units within the receiving pod, the board is required to approve it.
The Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board recommended approval at its March 9 meeting. Village staff recommended approval, and the Palm Beach Polo Homeowners Association submitted a letter supporting the application.
McGovern made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.