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Opa-locka may pass new sign ordinance

Opa-locka is continuing its rebranding efforts by proposing a new ordinance for signs and advertisements in the city.

Commissioner Dorothy Johnson hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday to present details from the ordinance. To make things more uniform, the city is proposing that businesses model their signs after one of four proposed styles.

“As we look to take the city to the 21st century, we found it very necessary to look at the signage,” said Johnson.

The ordinance would include limitations on the dimensions of the signs, and would eliminate things like banner signs on fences, billboards and paper signs advertising garage and car sales. Howard Brown, the city’s community development director, said he hopes the new law also will help deter vandalism.

“We may not look like Aventura, but we can look nice and we can be clean,” Brown said. “We want to start with these major corridors, we want to clean them up and provide an aesthetically pleasing community.”

The city initially proposed the ordinance in December 2012, Johnson said, but she pulled it from the agenda to allow more time to discuss the changes with business owners.

Owners would have to apply for a sign permit, if signage isn’t a part of their building application, and pay a fee. If the permit expires, the owner would have to reapply and pay an additional fee.

General violations of the ordinance would cost $500 per day. Businesses also would be responsible for paying for any mandated changes to their signs.

The proposal includes multiple exceptions and gives a five-year grace period to businesses in the city that may fall out of compliance when the ordinance is passed. Those businesses will have two years to submit a sign plan to meet the ordinance’s regulations and three years to have their plan approved. If they have not complied after five years, their signs will be removed.

Some additional exceptions to the proposed ordinance include: special event signs, temporary holiday signs and political campaign signs. These signs are exempt from permit application, but still subject to dimension and size regulations.

“None of our campaign signs should be out of the ordinance, we should all be in compliance,” Johnson said. “We would not be bringing it just for you and it’s not good for us.”

The city will host a planning meeting Jan. 7 which will be open for public input. The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the Jan. 22 commission meeting.

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