Friday, December 8, 2017

Amendment Permits Digital Signs for Parochial Schools

St. Thomas School (from FTM file)
--> A new digital sign may soon be in the works for St. Thomas School in Fort Thomas.

After meetings with the city Planning Commission and the Design Review Board, representatives of the school were successful in their quest to change wording in a residential zoning ordinance to allow them to install a new digital sign at the school.

A 2007 zoning ordinance lays out parameters for permitted use of signage in residential areas including size, design, placement, and other details. As government entities, public schools have been exempt from local zoning ordinances so they have been able to install and use digital signs, but it was not clearly outlined whether and how parochial schools could also use these signs.

The text amendment clarifies that both public and parochial schools may add digital signage if all requirements are met.
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St. Thomas School officials study the issue

St. Thomas School discovered the issue after it received a donation for a new sign. Fort Thomas residents Paul Drury and Tom Fisher represented the school at the design and planning meetings.

Drury told the commission that a sign that could be changed electronically would free up valuable staff time and resources. He said school officials researched zoning ordinances of several other Northern Kentucky cities and worked with city staff and the Design Review Board to draft text that was careful to take into consideration the sign’s impact on the neighborhood.

In fact, he added, there are no single-family homes near where the sign would be located. The school would be able to add landscaping as well, something they were unable to do with the old sign because they had to have access for staff to change the message.

A new sign coming soon

The Planning Commission made a few language changes to the school’s proposed amendment and recommended it to City Council. Council had a first hearing of the amendment at its November meeting where it was well-received. Members will vote on the amendment at the December council meeting.

"If it passes, the changes will be published and the school should be able to install the sign by the end of the year," said City Administrator Ron Dill.

The amendment would affect Fort Thomas parochial schools, St. Thomas and St. Catherine of Siena.

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