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Dickinson Planning, Zoning Commission works out kinks in sign ordinance

The Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission continued to work out the kinks in a revision of the proposed sign ordinance as billboard and sign companies plead with them to leave room for change and growth.

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“This is important and it gives an impression to what type of place this is and what we want it to be,” Commission Chairman Earl Abrahamson said. “If we want Las Vegas, we can go to Las Vegas.”

During a workshop after their regular meeting Wednesday morning at City Hall in Dickinson, Community Development Director Ed Courton urged city staff to review the draft.

There are approximately 50 billboards in the city’s extraterritorial zone, which is approximately 2 miles from its actual boundaries. One suggestion is to cap the amount, but allow them to be moved, Courton said.

“I’m not against some billboards within the city’s zoning jurisdiction,” Commissioner Jay Elkin said. “I don’t know that I necessarily want to see digital billboards running along Villard (Street) within the city. I think they’re distraction.”

The commission also discussed whether to allow billboards through a special-use permit, requiring more oversight through city government, or an administerial permit through city staff.

“If you want to do a special use permit procedure we’d have to have very defined criteria about what the commission could consider in that special use permit because of the fact that we don’t want to be arbitrary in our decisions and simply approve the boards that we like and disapprove the boards that we don’t like,” City Attorney Matt Kolling said. “There has to be a defined set of criteria that we consider with a special use permit.”

While it’s using other cities and state regulations for guidelines, the ordinance drafted will be tailored to Dickinson’s needs, Abrahamson said.

“Under current law, we’re trying to write a good ordinance,” Abrahamson said.

The commission will discuss the staff-drafted ordinance at its April 16 meeting before sending it to the Dickinson City Commission for final approval.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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