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Birmingham updates public notice signs

By Kevin Elliott

The Birmingham City Commission on Monday, September 20, approved changes to it's zoning ordinances to clarify regulations regarding public notice signs at construction sites throughout the city.

Birmingham Planning Director Nick Dupuis said the changes were prompted by issues the city encountered with the placement of public notice signs within the 15-day public notice period.

The issues came to light in June when a notice at the upcoming Restoration Hardware site along S. Old Woodward had failed to be placed appropriately and commissioners were forced to delay a public hearing on the project.

“We’ve had a couple of notice sign issues, and we felt there was room in the zoning ordinances to make it abundantly clear what the responsibilities are for applicants and what our responsibilities are in regard to public notice signs, specifically,” said Dupuis.

He said the current ordinance requires signs to be placed in a “conspicuous” location. He said that language was changed to make locations more clear.

“Conspicuous can mean different things to different people, so we changed it to say it must be clearly visible from a public right of way so there’s a little more clarity there so people know where to post it,” he said.

Notice signs must also stay posted until after the final public hearing, ensuring the sign is visible for the entire public process. Additional changes include listing all of the approving bodies. Dupuis said staff is also working with the planning board to redesign the on-site public notice signs to make them easier to understand.

Dupuis said the new signs will include a QR code that can be scanned to provide the public with additional information about the project. Designs were previously presented to the public through Engage Birmingham, which included 55 participants. Of those participating in the survey, 61 percent said they had used public notice signs to learn more about a project in the city. About 64 percent said signs should have just enough detail to understand what is being proposed, but not too much that it can’t be read.

Commissioners unanimously approved the changes.


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