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Photo by Erin Achenbach

Scott Credit Union in Crestwood uses an electronic message board.

Zoning rules around email centers can be a divisive issue in Crestwood, which is why an ordinance was recently created to regulate building materials for EMC bases.

The ordinance, which was recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 2, would limit accepted EMC base materials to masonry – stone, rock, brick, marble or granite – consistent with the main structure. Some commissioners said the change could lead to a monotonous atmosphere in the city.

The Board of Aldermen heard the proposal on March 23 and several questions were raised about the wording and potential impact of the ordinance.

Ward 3 Alderman Scott Shipley prepared a presentation highlighting some potential complications with other parts of the city code. In the current code, drive-thru and pole signs are exempt from some rules, but the new ordinance did not exempt them from the new materials rule.

Shipley also referenced a conversation during the planning meeting where a commissioner asked if applicants could request a waiver for other materials. The attending city attorney cited part of the city code which states that “waivers will only be granted for the size, location and number of signs.”

“My interpretation is that I don’t think we can even appeal this. I think we’re all going to live with masonry-based EMC panels,” Shipley said.

Shipley said life would go on if the ordinance passes, but council should consider sending the ordinance to city staff to implement the architectural review in the planning commission process.

Several aldermen agreed with Shipley’s sentiments, pointing to the same idea of ​​monotony mentioned at the planning level. The general feeling was that someone could choose which signs would do well in the city, but that would be hard to put into words. City Administrator Kris Simpson said he might consider adding the review to the planning commission’s responsibilities instead of trying to establish criteria for EMCs the city would like.

“Maybe we’re leveraging the Planning and Zoning Commission aspect to serve as an architectural review board just for EMCs,” Simpson said. “They might consider designing EMCs on a case-by-case basis. This could provide the opportunity to engage in more back-and-forth in terms of design.

Ward 4 Alderman John Sebben said the ordinance could place an undue burden on business owners.

“A lot of companies, especially if they’re a franchise or a chain, have their own plans that need to be redone for various reasons…but this one seems to be too cumbersome,” Sebben said. “(Non-masonry work) gives companies the ability to go with what their other franchises want and something aesthetic, but not masonry.”

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy – who faced Nicholas Ranciglio for re-election to the Ward 4 seat on April 5 after The Call went to press – disagreed with Sebben on the burden that the order could create.

“I think the aesthetics of the city are more important than the company spending a little more to make the sign look good,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said candidates in the past have said the signs will bring in additional revenue, so he suspects it wouldn’t be a problem if it cost them a bit more to comply with city code.

Council voted unanimously to send the ordinance back to city staff for rework.