The city council agreed to a moratorium on enforcement of “feathered flags” and other signage in the Central Business District after various downtown business owners addressed the council during Monday’s council meeting.
The City of Cañon City has prohibited such signage along Main Street from First to Ninth Streets, and certain streets to the north and south, but a moratorium on enforcement went into effect during the Covid pandemic.
“The feather flag ordinance is not a new regulation, that’s always been there,” Mayor Ashley Smith said. “The new sign ordinance, about three years ago, even at that time, did not allow feather flags. They never have been allowed. There was a moratorium on enforcement during Covid, which apparently maybe was a good thing because we realized that this is something businesses really benefitted from.”
Once the emergency orders due to Covid were lifted, the city began to provide education, and then enforcement, said City Administrator Ryan Stevens.
Smith said the city has been receiving complaints about the feathered flags, especially when they are weather-worn and torn.
Stevens said another issue with the feathered flags is some people have fallen over the bases that were left in the right-of-way and were injured.
“The flags draw customers into our businesses that might otherwise continue to walk past,” said Debbie Lake, chair of the Downtown Business Alliance. “I actually had a customer tell me today that because of the trees and because of the glare a lot of times on windows, it’s hard to see the open signs and she would know that our businesses were open when she would drive by and see the flags that would attract people into the shops.”
She asked if the council would consider allowing the alliance to be part of making decisions and providing solutions.
“Every store and business on Main Street is owned and operated by dedicated individuals who have invested countless hours of energy, business savvy, their money and their dreams to start businesses in the Central Business District,” said Beth Katchmar, who also spoke on behalf of the Downtown Business Alliance. “We all take pride in how our storefronts look, we are all responsible for sweeping our stores, cleaning our windows, shoveling snow, planting flowers, picking up trash and cleaning up numerous other messes that occur on Main Street.”
But business owners have reported decreased sales since they have been told to remove their feathered flags earlier this year.
Kathmar said Squirreled Away saw a 40% increase in sales the first month after the owner put up a feathered flag, but has seen a 78% decrease since it was removed.
“We understand the necessity of rules and regulations and appreciate the desire to maintain certain standards,” Katchmar said. “However, to simply disallow feathered flags instead of seeking or proposing solutions and measures that would allow for the use of feathered flags is very damaging.”
She asked for a moratorium on restrictions through the end of the year, especially because the third and fourth quarters are essential to businesses.
Erica Haverkamp of Dare Print and Sign Company proposed some solutions, such as standardized flag sizes and bases, using buckets that can be hidden underneath a sandwich board, or using flower pots that will camouflage the buckets.
Haverkamp and other residents also asked the council to reconsider the regulations on window clings.
“I think we’ve got to do everything we can – in a safe way – to help our downtown businesses,” said Councilman Tim Dennehy. “… I think this is something that we really need to look at and work at.”
Smith asked the Downtown Business Alliance committee to set a date and time to meet and discuss the issues with city staff that were brought before the council on Monday. Additionally, city crews will begin trimming trees along Main Street once they are dormant.
Permitted Signs in the Central Business District with a required permit:
• A-frame (no permit needed)• Canopy Awning• Directional Sign• Projecting Sign• Wall Mounted Banner• Wall Signs• Window Sign
• Feather Sign• Ground Mounted Banner Sign• Monument Sign• Pole/Pylon Sign• Post Sign• Yard Sign
A Planning & Zoning sign regulations video may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX_W-f3RBdU. A map of the Central Business District may be found online at https://www.canoncity.org/DocumentCenter/View/486/City-Zoning-Map-PDF.
More information on sign standards may be found at https://www.canoncity.org/DocumentCenter/View/303/Sign-Packet-PDF. For questions, contact City Planner, Patrick Mulready, at [email protected] or 719-276-5294.
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