PALMER – After several meetings and a workshop, the Palmer City Council approved a revised sign ordinance put before it. As described by city attorney Larry Jackson, the measure is a codification of three ordinances.

While the ordinance unanimously met the approval of the council members present, plans were put in place for future amendments, which could come as soon as the next regular council session in April.

Gregg Penny began the discussion with a series of question regarding issues covered by the new ordinance. Signage requirements that could possibly impact commercial growth to the city as well as signs and banners used by organizations were among his lengthy list of concerns.  

Penny was supported by council member Dianne Drewery with concerns relating to youth groups and community service organizations being able to carry hand signs or post temporary signs supporting fundraisers.

Penny’s commercial concern was with the restriction of logo size and letters.

“If a corporation mandates a sign’s size and design and that does not meet the city’s standard we could stand to lose a potential business to the city,” he said.

Several times during the discussion, City Manager Doug Young reminded the council and others attending the meeting that not every situation will be covered by an ordinance and those not covered would be addressed by through a variance request.

With Young’s urging to get an ordinance in place to address current requests and non-conforming signs, the council passed what was presented. Young asked Penny for his list and said he would research and address each item.

The council agreed that some of the questions brought to the council’s attention could become future amendments to the new ordinance.

The only other item approved by the council was a request from the Palmer Youth Athletic Association for funds to pay for field striping for the baseball and softball games. The association requested the city approve $1,600 for the striping of the fields prior to games.

Public works director Charles Slovak suggested city public works employees could do the striping rather than the city paying for the work.

Both Young and Mayor Pro-Tem Kenneth Bateman asked Slovak how he would handle striping the fields if there was an emergency. Slovak said it would be no problem for his five-man department. He added some in the department had done it in the past and would volunteer for the striping. Young was asked if using city staff, even if some overtime was necessary, would cost less than the requested $1,600. He said it would be less.

Following the three-one vote, with the dissenting vote cast by Jeff Vick, the use of the city staff passed. Councilman Chris Ivey and Mayor Lance Anglin were absent.  After the vote, Vick said he was not against supporting the youth organization.

“I’d rather see the city pay the $1,600 and not use city staff. There are a lot of variables, city emergencies, staff time if the fields are not ready and rain delays, that paying the fee for the service made better sense,” he said.

No action was taken on an agenda item regarding conflict of interest affidavits in council packets. Jackson explained that were a situation to arise, one of these affidavits should be used. Explaining the document, he advised if there were an exclusion from voting on an agenda item due to a conflict of interest, the affidavit needs to be signed before a notary prior to the meeting.

Jackson went on to explain where it is not necessary to complete one of the forms, such as when a council member abstains as a personal decision.

“What qualifies for the affidavits would be if a council decision involves a business where a council member has an association of interest or involving real estate,” he said.

Young made a presentation showing a spreadsheet on bids for an electrical utility supplier to the city. Young showed the various bids for both public utility suppliers and for purchasing pools. One of the pools represented was Texas Association of School Boards, TASB, and a coalition known as TCAP.

“I have several contractual issues with the four public utility suppliers. I think going to TASB opens many future possibilities with this coalition,” Young said.

The item was tabled until the next regular meeting for a representative of TCAP to address the council.

Another item was a zoning change requested by Suzanne Holly for her property on East Jefferson for use as a plant sales and nursery. Holly made a similar request last November. At that time Holly was requested to have a study made relating to drainage.          

During the meeting, the city’s staff expressed several concerns regarding sewer and water service connections and issues not addressed by the engineering study presented by Holly. The request was tabled until the next meeting for more engineering study information from Holly.