Greencastle residents, business owners and anyone else with a petition that has been denied by the city Plan Commission will have to wait at least a year before re-filing it, according to a proposed rule change that is headed to the City Council in October.
These and other changes to the city's zoning ordinance were approved unanimously by members of the Greencastle Plan Commission Monday night. They will have to be approved by the City Council on two readings before becoming final.
Under the current zoning ordinance, petitioners whose requests are denied by the plan commission may be eligible to have their cases reheard by submitting a written request to the city planner within 30 days after the denial.
The plan commission can reverse its decision, the ordinance says, based on a number of factors, including the petitioner presenting new or clarified information that was not available to the board during the initial hearing.
This week, however, plan commissioners voted to strike the entire language concerning re-filing petitions.
The new ordinance reads: "no request for variance, special exception or administrative appeal which has been denied may be re-filed for a period of one year from the date of denial."
Also approved Monday night were changes to the city's sign ordinance.
Specifically, the board altered restrictions on abandoned signs, or those that are no longer in use because a business has moved out.
The current ordinance requires that abandoned signs be removed by the owner within 30 days after the business shuts down. This includes the sign itself, all poles, frames, supports, electrical, mechanical and other elements.
City Planner Shannon Norman indicated there are currently signs in town that classify as abandoned. However, she said some of them are a "substantial part" of the building itself and allowing them to remain in place is important to the resale of the property.
Plan commission members agreed, voting to strike the 30-day limit from the ordinance.
Another issue brought up by the city planner was enforcement of the sign ordinance, meaning someone from the city has to make sure business owners are following the rules.
Those rules tend to be broken the most -- according to those who complain to the city planner -- as they relate to temporary signs. Temporary signs are typically used by businesses to advertise special sales or promotions.
"I think this is one thing I hear the most about," Norman said.
At the suggestion of Norman, the plan commission voted to relax the rules on temporary signs by increasing the number of days a business is allowed to use them during a given year.
Under the current ordinance, businesses can utilize temporary signs for seven consecutive days, a maximum of four times per year, or a total of 28 days.
According to the new plan, businesses will be able to request using the signs for up to 12 weeks in a given year, or 84 days per year.
City Attorney Laurie Robertson-Hardwick said the new rule is intended to allow businesses to advertise sales that occur one week per month, however, businesses could potentially leave the signs up 12 weeks in a row.
Also changed in the ordinance is the location of temporary signs.
Under the current ordinance, such signs may be allowed in certain zones, including commercial business, general business, professional business and light and general industrial.
The new ordinance makes the signs permissible in all zones of the city.
A complete list of the zoning changes that were approved by the plan commission this week are available at city hall. Also, the City Council will consider them at a future meeting.
The Greencastle Plan Commission meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month at city hall.