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Waupaca addresses mural ordinance

A mural by artist Leif Larson is on the side of the Antiques of the Main building on Main Street in Waupaca. File Photo

New rules for window signs

By Robert Cloud

The Waupaca Common Council hopes to encourage businesses to paint more murals on their buildings.

Amendments to a sign ordinance were given a first reading at a June 6 council meeting.

Jarod Rachu, the city’s community and economic director, said the changes would make murals a separate category, rather than including them in the same category as other signage.

“Murals should be, in my opinion, something we encourage,” Rachu said, noting that murals add to the vibrancy of the community.

“It allows businesses to create something different for their customers to come and see,” Rachu said.

He observed there are places that have murals depicting large butterfly wings where visitors take photo ops and post about the community on social media.

“I think it’s a healthy thing to have them not only in our downtown but throughout the community,” Rachu said.

Murals would require a permit from the Community and Economic Development Department.

The zoning administrator would review the application for a mural, then make a recommendation to the Plan Commission.

The Plan Commission will review the proposed mural and approve, deny or modify the application.

Murals will not be counted toward commercial signage limits if they do not include logos, trademarks or other references to the business or its products and services.

Commercial signage

The council also held a first reading on changes to commercial signage restrictions.

The proposed ordinance amendments would allow businesses to install window and door signs without a permit.

Under the current code, the signs can only cover 25% of the window or door on the front of the building.

Under the proposed amendments, the maximum size allowed is 50% without a permit.

Rachu said the changes will allow more flexibility, but still allow significant sight lines into the building.

Allowing the larger signs makes it easier for customers to read and understand them, Rachu said.

Sidewalk signage

Currently, businesses on Main Street, between Badger and Granite streets, are allowed to place sandwich boards on the sidewalk as long as they do not obstruct pedestrian traffic.

Rachu said other businesses, located on other downtown side streets, wanted to be allowed to place temporary signs in front of their buildings.

“They all wanted temporary sandwich signs that would show they are open during the day or they have a special, trying to draw people in,” Rachu said.

The city ordinance regarding encroachment on the public right of way did not allow sidewalk signs on other streets, “so there were a lot of displeased business owners, and rightfully so,” Rachu said.

Under the proposed amendment, businesses will be allowed to place temporary sidewalk signs on Granite, Water, Sessions, Fulton, Washington, Union, Badger and Jefferson streets in the downtown area.

“Anything that would help our downtown businesses succeed,” Mayor Brian Smith said.

The amendments will have a second and final reading at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, June 20.

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