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Sign Laws 'Not Exactly A Model Of Clarity'

Even the experts admit that some county laws aren't easily understood.

Anyone who has ever tried to read a bill for a proposed law can tell you that some are a breeze to understand.

And then there are times when a bill's language just does not translate.

Such is the case for a proposal to be voted on tonight by the Baltimore County Council that would create a new type of signage for some industrial parks, sponsored by Councilman Todd Huff.

"This is very strict sign legislation," Huff said during a work session last week "It's strictly for industrial parks, minimum of two-story 50,000 square-foot floor area with multiple tenants to give the property owner the ability to put up an additional sign."

But historical preservationists had concerns.

"I beg your forgiveness if this is inappropriate but I really couldn't understand the bill because of the way it was written or the way we received it online," said Patricia Bentz, who represented the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County. "It was very cryptic and I had called a couple weeks ago and asked for it to be made more legible and I didn't get a response. So, I am unable to determine if there is any detrimental effect on historic properties."

Huff said the bill would not affect historic properties.

"That, what you're seeing, is what is actually in the code books. It's designed that way," Huff said.

Thomas Peddicord, the council's secretary and legal adviser, summed it up more succinctly.

"The portion of the zoning regulations dealing with signs are not exactly a model of clarity," said Peddicord. "That entire section consists of about 10 or 12 pages which is a large chart and it is difficult, even in the full context of the bill, to read it."

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Mike Pierce August 06, 2012 at 09:08 PM
The main problem with the text of this bill is that it will allow a building to be completely covered by signs. It allows each sign to be "two times the length of the wall to which the signs are affixed" (meaning in square feet), but does not limit the number of signs. Thus, the entire building can be covered with as many signs as the owner wants. I've pointed this out in comments to Todd Huff. If it is not corrected, it shows that they really don't care about writing clear legislation.
Patricia Batyi Bentz August 07, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I was very disappointed with the Council voting unanimously in favor of this Bill. I would wager that if asked, no Council member could explain it. It includes OT zoning (Office Technical) which is NOT Industrial. Enough of Councilmanic courtesy. Let a Bill be passed on its credibility!

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