Sunday, November 10, 2013

Much ado about signage

Umich Athletic Department's digital billboard

At their November 7th 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the University of Michigan Athletic Department to remove their new $ 2.8 Million digital billboard. The Athletic Department's billboard is in conflict with several portions of the City's Sign Ordinance: it is too large, it flashes and displays changeable copy on more than 50% of its surface. Or, I should say, the billboard in question would be in conflict with the City's Sign Ordinance if the U of M were not exempt from local ordinances.

I think it's a good idea for the city and U of M to work towards having more effective communication. Insofar as Thursday's resolution attempts to say "Hey U of M, your sign is a little bit much, let's work together to find something that work for all of our constituents." I think it's a good resolution. Sometimes I worry efforts like this are used by some to foment discontent with U of M. It seems like some folks will take any excuse to get upset at the University. They are upset about taking the Pfizer property off the tax rolls, the instillation of solar panels at said property, and the closure of Main St. during Football Games.

So I guess what I'm trying to get at is this: working to develop better channels for communications/collaborations between the City and the University is probably a good idea. On the other hand, spending city council time yelling at U of M for something they are well within their right to do might not be the best use of time and energy. Especially considering there are other entities such as the Ann Arbor Public Schools also have non-conforming signs.

Pioneer High School's digital sign, via Google Street View

If you'd like to read the city's sign ordinance for yourself it's Title V, Chapter 61 of the city's municipal code.

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