Proposed sign regulations submitted to Moscow City Council

MOSCOW, ID - Moscow's Planning and Zoning Commission met Wednesday night to discuss dynamic display signs, and agreed on a set of regulations they'll pass on to the city council for approval.

If you ask a Moscow resident to explain what a dynamic display sign is, they might look a little confused. But if they do know what they are, they'll likely point you toward Tri-State.

"Tri-State's sign is 192 feet," said Moscow Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jerry Schultz. "You'll never see, regardless of what we do, you'll never see another sign that big again."

The sign created controversy among city officials, business owners and concerned citizens, which caused the city council to pass an emergency ordinance on dynamic display signs this past September. The move gave the Planning and Zoning Commission time to come up with a permanent set of regulations.

"I'm a little bit stunned that we don't have a few more people here tonight," said Moscow Planning and Zoning Commissioner Nels Reese.

The issue isn't as controversial as was when Tri-State first installed their sign, and some people believe that the animations displayed along the roadway are just a sign of the times.

"People that I've spoken to that are younger, they think it's great," said Moscow resident Jason Hurdlow. "I think it's perhaps older people who aren't used to seeing that kind of thing."

"You can hardly go to a decent meal without having six screens showing thirteen different ballgames at the same time or whatever it is," said Reese.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recognizes that these signs are only going to get more popular as time goes on. But they don't want the streets to start looking like the Las Vegas strip.

"What does the town look like when it's plastered in that stuff?" said Moscow Planning and Zoning Commissioner Deborah Reynold. "No matter which entry you come in, north, south, east or west, that's all that you see."

The commissioners strongly considered business owners' rights.

"That is their most effective form of advertising," said Schultz.

Ultimately the commission decided that driver safety and Moscow's aesthetics are more important. The ordinance they decided on limits dynamic display sign size to 100 square-feet, but existing signs that exceed that size are exceptions. It also limits the brightness to 500 nits at night, requires that each message is displayed for at least eight seconds, and that transitions are two seconds or less.

The Planning and Zoning Commission's proposed ordinance will be reviewed by the city council in a future meeting, and the public will be invited to attend and provide their input on the regulations.