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Lorain Council OKs first read of updated sign ordinance

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LORAIN — Sign and billboard prices could as much as triple in some cases as the city of Lorain’s fee structure is getting a facelift for the first time in more than 30 years.

At a public hearing Monday night, chief of staff Phil Dore outlined the changes, saying in 2014 all of the permit fees for zoning had been updated except the set for signs, which hadn’t been touched since 1985.

According to the legislation, the current permit cost for a new billboard less than 300 square feet is $150 and one in excess of 300 square feet is $250. All other signs in excess of 15 square feet are $15 plus 50 cents per square foot over 15 square feet.

An electrical sign requiring a city approval label would cost $35 for the inspection and the label.

The proposed changes stipulate permits for new billboards less than 300 square feet would be $300, double the current cost, and those larger than 300 square feet would be $750, triple the current cost. All other signs less than 64 square feet would be $100 and an additional $1 per square foot for every square foot over 64.

An electrical sign requiring a city approval label would cost $70 for the inspection and the label, double the current cost.

Dore said changes to revenue streams played a big part in the decision to raise the fees because advertising money from billboards just doesn’t work the same as it did in 1985.

“The changes are based on comparables that you’re going to find in the communities around the city of Lorain and the new technology for signs that we see,” he said. “Typically in the old days, in 1985, you would have a billboard that would have one advertiser. They would come out and put paste up and have one advertisement for the whole month. In today’s world what we have is electronic signs so they can have more than just one advertisement per month. They can have hundred in any particular month.”

Councilman Greg Argenti, I-4th Ward, expressed concerns about the permit fee for new billboards more than 300 square feet would be tripling in price, but Dore said the city really was just that far off the surrounding cities.

“If you took the $250 fee in 1985, I’m not sure what it would equate to today,” he said. “I’m guessing it would double. The other thing is the type of sign we’re looking at today is different than the ones we were looking at in 1985. The revenue streams on these new signs is tremendous.”

Dore said this ordinance change also would apply to new businesses but most won’t be using more than 300 square feet, which is more of a standard billboard size.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Councilman Joe Faga, D-7th Ward, said. “We need to recover our expenses on all services. This is excellent. We’re just recovering our costs.”

The ordinance will be sent to full Council for consideration at its regular meeting Monday.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @KatieHNix.
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