Grosse Pointe ShoresAugust 9, 2012
Shores officials to consider revising sign ordinance for open houses
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — City officials are debating whether to amend their sign ordinance to make it easier for real estate professionals to advertise open houses.
During a July 17 City Council meeting, City Attorney Mark McInerney — who had been asked to look into possible alternatives — offered city leaders an option to the current ordinance, which limits residents to a single “For Sale” sign on their property.
After considering similar ordinances in St. Clair Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods and Farmington Hills, McInerney said he drew what he felt were some of their best provisions for a possible new ordinance in the Shores that would allow “Open House” signs between noon-6 p.m. on Sundays between the sidewalk and the curb in residential areas, and possibly on city-owned property, such as Lake Shore medians. Sign size would still be limited to 7 square feet. If signs weren’t removed by 6 p.m. Sunday, he said city personnel would be able to pick them up and hold them at city offices, where their owners — in most cases, real estate agents — would have to pay a fine to get them back.
Interim City Manager Mark Wollenweber, a former city manager in St. Clair Shores, said fines for uncollected signs in that city quickly got the attention of real estate agents, who got better about picking up their signs after having to pay a couple of fines to retrieve them.
City Council member Kay Felt said seven major real estate agents who came to a recent committee meeting asked for additional signs, because the sign limit for homes is impractical when it comes to some of the Shores’ winding streets.
“This is an effort to respond to a need that has been identified,” McInerney said.
Resident Vito Cusenza, a practicing real estate salesperson, told the council that it’s very difficult to sell homes in the Shores because of the sign ordinance. Smaller houses are hard for potential buyers to find, he said. Cusenza said the Shores is the only community he’s aware of that has such a restrictive ordinance on the books.
Not everyone thinks the proposed change is a good idea, however. City Council member Daniel Schulte said he heard from several residents who said they were “vehemently opposed” to it because they were afraid the signs wouldn’t be taken down on schedule. He said the only way he could vote in favor of such an ordinance would be if there was a stiff penalty for anyone in violation of the time window for signs.
City Council member Bruce Bisballe also expressed some reservations, noting that the ordinance change might overly burden corner residents with visible properties, and asking if officials wanted to encourage “random driving around” in Shores neighborhoods.
“It’s great for the Realtor, but does the community want it?” Bisballe asked.
Some officials also questioned how important open houses were to real estate sales in the Shores.
Officials might add a provision to the ordinance that would require real estate agents to get permission from a homeowner — such as someone on a corner lot — where open house signs might be placed directing customers to a neighboring home.
Mayor Ted Kedzierski seemed to be leaning toward the change if it would improve the marketing of homes in the city — something leaders have been promoting through the newly formed Ambassador Committee.
Because the ordinance falls under the Shores’ zoning codes, McInerney said, the city would need to hold a public hearing before a vote could be taken to make any changes.
At press time, the council was slated to discuss and possibly vote on an amended ordinance at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 21. For more information, visit the Shores’ website at www.gpshoresmi.gov; meeting agendas are typically posted three days before the meeting date.
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