Recently the city council adopted an update for an ordinance regulating business signs.
For those not familiar with government, yes, cities regulate all sorts of things.
Mayor Karen Majewski hailed the process of adopting a new ordinance as a prime example of “compromise.”
While we applaud the mayor for seeking common ground, the process was not smooth, and the city caved to some of the worst impulses of some councilmembers.
But first let’s back up.
The ordinance went through a rigorous review by the city’s Plan Commission, which is comprised of volunteer residents who are appointed based on their valuable knowledge of things like this.
It’s hard enough to find anyone to serve on a non-paying city commission, but to find folks who have experience and knowledge of certain city functions to volunteer is nearly impossible.
A bare majority of councilmembers, urged on by a handful of business owners, insisted on further changes to the ordinance, namely allowing business signs to be bigger. That was a slap in the face of the folks who sit on the Plan Commission.
Progressive cities limit the size and type of signs in order to avoid signage pollution – the kind of gaudy signage one sees in the suburbs.
Bigger is definitely not better. In fact, it’s just the opposite: less is more.
And the problem with this type of thinking is that once you allow bigger signs to go up, eventually businesses will insist they need even bigger signs.
It’s a slippery slope, folks.
Some business owners also insisted on allowing businesses to cover up more and more of their windows with ridiculous promotional signs.
Again, this just adds to an overall gaudy image – plus it deters police officers and firefighters from being able to look inside businesses to see what’s happening in the case of emergencies.
Some also wanted flashing, annoying lighting and inflatables and just about everything a city like Sterling Heights has.
Sometimes leadership requires avoiding the temptation to please a few and make decisions that are right for the city.
Some Hamtramck officials have once again failed to show such leadership.
Jan. 25, 2019