Fort Collins sign code meetings brings community, businesses together

Austin Fleskes

Both community members and business employees gathered in the Drake Centre on Feb. 7 to discuss the current code for signs in Fort Collins, and discuss the opinions of the community to see how sign codes should be changed in the future. 

According to one of the many signs at the meeting, created by the City of Fort Collins, Fort Collins has been regulating signs since the 1970’s. 

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“At the time, it was in response to rapid growth and a trend toward sign proliferation and commercial marketing that was changing the character and identity of the city,” read one of the signs.

The process for updating these sign codes consisted of two phases. The first phase focused on an initial critical update to reflect consistent standards regardless of any sign’s content. The second, and the purpose for the meeting on Feb. 7, was to reconfirm the community’s goals for the entire sign code, which included engaging the public in conversations about sign code topics such as size, color, lighting, location, technology and materials. 

These sign codes are being updated now because of a few reasons. In part, it is due to the rulings of the 2015 court decision of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that sign codes must remain content neutral. 

Another reason the sign codes are being addressed is because of changing technology and a move towards electronic signs, among other technology, said Missy Nelson, City of Fort Collins zoning inspector.

“As technology increases, we have more people asking for these kinds of signs,” Nelson said.

Noah Beals, Senior City Planner for zoning, only stated more people are asking for these types of signs, but the current regulation is very set for electronic signs 

“Right now, the standards don’t allow for more than two colors,” Beals said, adding that one of the topics for the night was to explore what people thought about full color electronic signs. 

Members at the event shared with Collegian reporters their reasons for being there.

Julia Barrett, a member of ADCON signs, an architectural sign company, stated that for her job she has to know what the code allows.

“Basically every building needs (a sign),” Barrett said. “I’m the person that does the sign code research. Knowing the code is integral to my job.”

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Jeremy Call from Logan Simpson, a small business in Fort Collins, was brought in as a neutral facilitator for the

Jeremy Call speaking in front of a projector screen as neutral facilitator for the sign code meeting on Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo | Austin)
Jeremy Call from Logan Simpson served as the neutral facilitator for the sign code meeting on Feb. 7, 2018.
(Photo | Austin Fleskes)

discussion.

During his discussion, Call focused on four types of signs to be discussed with the community: electronic messaging centers, billboards (electronic and normal), interactive window signs and projected light signs.

All of these topics discussed revolved around community members discussing questions such as color, lighting, size and others that they each felt matched Fort Collins the best when it comes to certain signs. 

Kevin Flowers, a member of the community who works in marketing, stated the meeting was something that he had an invested interest in.

“Sometimes the city can be very restrictive, and they don’t look at all sides,” Flowers said.

Going forward, Call said that a draft code will be created and a meeting will be held on that in the spring. The adoption process will follow in late spring. 

Todd Messenger, an attorney with Fairfield and Woods who will be writing the draft code from the information gathered at the event, stated the city of Fort Collins is taking this opportunity to address the issues of the community.

“When the people in authority opt for this, it makes a community like Fort Collins special,” Messenger said. 

Those searching for more information or would like to comment can visit the Sign Code Update page on the City of Fort Collins website. 

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.