City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens recently sent out notices of changes in the sign ordinance to local businesses which may need to modify the status of one or more of their signs.
"In total, I sent out letters to 22 businesses within the city limits," Gibbens told The Brazil Times. "So far, no one has been real upset about it, and they were glad for the upfront notice."
Gibbens added her parents were business owners when she was younger and felt a less aggressive approach than had been used in the past was the right way to go.
"It's hard to notify someone of a violation when they don't know about changes in the rules," she said. "I can't imagine that local businesses wouldn't want to comply."
In constructing the letter, Gibbens decided not to directly call out any one business and list some of the potential issues which could arise in the future.
"I included some of the highlights of the ordinance that I have seen around town," she said. "It's hard enough to keep a business going without being deterred by outside factors."
Gibbens told The Brazil Times the biggest sign issues highlighted by her and the Common Council of the City of Brazil regard banners and lighted arrow signs.
"In both cases, they are temporary signs and can only be used for a certain amount of time," she said. "The letters were not intended to warn of fines, but to inform those who have something that needs to be addressed."
The letter also included notice of new fees attached to issues pertaining to new signs or modifying/moving other signs.
"As always, business owners need to notify the city when constructing a new sign or making changes to an older sign because they also need a permit," Gibbens said. "The fees were not in place before, but they are very reasonable."
In recent months, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has been notifying businesses along United States 40 about the need to move signs in preparation for the proposed US 40 project. Gibbens said the fee would still apply, but the responsibility may not be on business owners.
"We have been contacted by INDOT about the state potentially covering the costs of moving signs for businesses along US 40 for when the project begins," she said. "That would definitely be a big benefit for local business owners."
Gibbens said the city has had one issue regarding a new sign being constructed without a permit, but said they are working on a solution.
"We notified them of the issue and they are currently applying for a variance," Gibbens said. "If a business wants to place a sign that may be in violation of the ordinance, they can always apply for a variance for the Board of Zoning Appeals to consider."
Gibbens added she welcomes calls or e-mails with questions from local businesses regarding sign issues.
"It is better they know what is going on before things come to the point of labeling something as a violation," Gibbens said in reference to why she sent out the letters. "Plus, they always have the option of contacting me if they are unsure of whether something is in accordance to the rules."
Gibbens can be contacted by phone at 446-0050, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions or for more information.