Aggieville signs could go digital

Policy for churches, schools also could change under revision

By Bryan Richardson

Manhattan could soon see more digital signs in Aggieville and at churches and schools if the city approves changes to local regulations.

The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board received an update Monday on the ongoing sign regulation changes.

Senior planner Chad Bunger said one of the main goals of the revision is introducing electronic signs into the community.

“You probably won’t see a whole lot different, other than digital and electronic signs in certain commercial areas and churches and schools,” he said.

Currently, the city allows digital signs to show only time and temperature or gas prices.

Kansas State University has an electronic sign along Anderson Avenue because it’s exempt from sign regulations under its annexation agreement with the city.

“Probably every school in town has requested a digital sign at one point, and quite a few churches have done that also,” Bunger said.

Only churches and schools could have electronic signs within a residential area. The signs could have only numbers and letters, with the message staying on screen for at least 15 minutes.

Business and commercial areas could have some form of electronic signs.

Aggieville would be allowed to have fully digital animated signs used at certain times through a special event permit. During other times, signs could have numbers, letters and/or pictures with a static message for at least 60 seconds.

Board member John Ball said the primary concern with the fully digital signs is the potential safety distraction for drivers.

Board member Gary Stith said he wouldn’t be opposed to full digital signs in the interior of Aggieville because traffic moves more slowly, and because it’s an entertainment district.

“Maybe with this kind of thing, we actually contribute to the energy and excitement of Aggieville,” he said.

Kate Ryan, marketing director for Georgetown Apartments and Westchester Park Apartments, advocated for larger signs for apartments.

She said an option is the city allowing 1 square foot of sign per 1 foot of street frontage rather than the 32 square feet maximum.

Board member Jerry Reynard said he isn’t sure what difference a larger sign will make since everybody, especially the younger generation, does things online.

“I don’t think signage for the rental industry is a big thing,” he said.

Ryan said the signs create awareness with 10 percent of Georgetown’s occupants and 7 percent for Westchester’s coming from driving by the signs.

“(Occupants) almost exclusively at this point are online or referral traffic, but that 10 percent and that seven percent certainly make a difference,” she said.

Bunger said he wants the entire sign regulations draft completed by June and adopted this summer.

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