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Raye Miller, left, is sworn in as the new mayor of Artesia Friday afternoon at City Hall by city clerk Aubrey Hobson. Miller ran unopposed in last week’s municipal election, receiving 707 total votes. He will preside over his first city council meeting Tuesday. “I’m excited about being mayor,” Miller said Friday. “I’m certainly concerned that I don’t know all that I should, but hopefully, I’ll try to do the best job that I can.” A profile of the new mayor and post-election thoughts from councilors whose seats were challenged this year will be published in the Daily Press over the coming week. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

Raye Miller will preside over his inaugural city council meeting as mayor of Artesia Tuesday as the council convenes for the first time since the March 6 municipal election.

This will also mark the first council meeting for newly-elected District 2 councilor George Mullen, who will replace the retired Nora Sanchez.

Two public hearings are on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, including a revisiting of an ordinance amending Chapters 1, 2 and 11 of Section 9 of the Artesia City Code regarding signage. Information detailing the proposed changes is included below.

The second hearing will concern an ordinance amending Section 8-1-7, the “Existing Building Code,” and Section 8-1-8, the “Property Maintenance Code,” of the municipal code.

The council will also consider the approval of six Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) annual resolutions and a proposal from Councilor Jeff Youtsey to name the Community Garden “Carol’s Corner.”

The Artesia City Council will hold a public hearing at its regularly-scheduled meeting today on proposed changes to portions of the city’s Zoning Ordinance.

Changes to Chapters 1, 2 and 11 of the ordinance will be presented to the council by Community Development director Jim McGuire. The most extensive changes are proposed for Chapter 11 concerning signage in the community.

Chapter 11

Section 9-11-2 would require any person or company “installing, repairing, altering, relocating or dismantling” a sign to possess a State of New Mexico contractor’s license, with any and all electrical work overseen by a state-licensed electrical contractor. A building permit would also be required to perform any of the above actions with the exception of painting signs directly onto a wall.

The building permit application would be required to include construction drawings, sign dimensions and height, wind and snow loads, stresses, anchorage, and other relevant data, along with a site plan referencing property lines, streets, sidewalks and/or alleys.

A sign permit from the New Mexico Department of Transportation would also be required for signs erected along state or federal highways.

Section 9-11-3 addresses prohibited signage, which would now include:

• signs, other than official government signs, located within or overhanging public rights-of-way or easements, public parks, or on public properties without council approval, unless otherwise allowed as cited in this chapter.

• signs that attempt to appear or attempt to imitate or resemble any official traffic sign, signal or device.

• signs or sign structures that prevent drivers from having a clear, unobstructed view of government signs.

• signs that prevent a clear, unobstructed view of any ingress or egress point on a lot, intersection and/or alley intersection, with all signs above 3 feet in height prohibited in sight triangles.

• signs that move or have moving parts, blink, flash, scroll or are animated in any fashion.

• signs lighted in any way that causes beams or rays of light to be directed onto adjacent properties or the roadway, or that are of such intensity as to cause glare or impair drivers’ vision.

• abandoned signs or signs deemed structurally unsafe or in disrepair.

• signs attached to or affixed in any way to utility poles, light poles, rocks, trees or other natural features located within public rights-of-way.

• off-premise signs in residential, public, hospital or special-use zoning districts.

• balloons, streamers, banners, vertical banners, pennants, pinwheels or inflatable signs displayed as part of a special sale, promotion, or community event for more than 90 calendar days.

• mobile signs.

• roof signs projecting above the roof line or parapet wall.

• signs placed within required parking spaces.

Residents will note some existing signs in the community – such as blinking, flashing and scrolling signs at some local businesses and schools – would now be in violation of the city code. McGuire noted at the council’s first meeting in February that those signs would be grandfathered in and would only become violations if they were altered or updated.

Signs not requiring a permit would include those placed by a government agency, temporary signs on private property, window signs, nameplates, address numbers, or memorial plaques made to be a fundamental part of a structure, public art, and signs painted onto surfaces or applied as wall accents/decorations. Other signs not requiring permits would be portable signs on public and private sidewalks in commercial, industrial and special-use zones, subject to certain restrictions.

Sign owners would be required to regularly maintain signs and keep them in good repair and working order. Exposed electrical components would be prohibited, and a sign or sign structure damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood, or any other cause to the extent its strength is compromised or it does not meet minimum requirements would be deemed hazardous and subject to removal at the owner’s expense.

Termination or discontinuation of an activity, service or product advertised on a sign for more than six months would result in the sign being declared abandoned and subject to removal.

Section 9-11-7 addresses electronic message signs, such as the digital billboard recently installed in Artesia, placing restrictions on the amount of time one advertisement must be visible prior to changing to another, as well as brightness levels in order to keep such signs from becoming a distraction to drivers.

Chapter 1

Proposed changes to Chapter 1 of the ordinance include the following:

• Sight Triangle Requirements: No obstruction to view in excess of three feet in height, including but not limited to buildings, driveways and parking spaces, fences/walls, landscaping and associated design features, and signs shall be placed:
— On any corner lot/parcel within a triangle formed by street property lines and a line connecting them at points 20 feet from the intersection of street property lines.
— On any lot/parcel within a triangle formed by a newly-platted alley line, street property line, and line connecting them at points 10 feet from the intersection of the newly platted alley line and street property line.
— On any lot/parcel within a triangle formed by a driveway line, street property line, and line connecting them at points 10 feet from the intersection of the driveway line and street property line on both sides of the driveway.

Street light poles, traffic control signal poles, traffic regulating signs, and utility poles that exceed three feet in height may be located in the sight triangle areas if they are placed in a manner that permits unobstructed vision to pedestrians and drivers.

• Driveway Location Requirements: The location of driveways on a lot/parcel shall be placed in a manner that provides safe ingress and egress, taking into account both vertical sight distance and horizontal sight distance. A driveway shall not be placed within 20 feet of an intersection of street property lines unless a variance is approved.

• Building Placement and Storm Water Requirements: The roof of a building shall not project across a property line; storm water runoff from a building shall not run onto adjacent property; no building shall be placed over any drainage or utility easement; all other provisions and applicable building and fire codes shall be adhered to.

Chapter 2

Changes to Chapter 2 would include the addition of the word “structure” to the existing requirements for accessory buildings. Definitions of various types of businesses, buildings/structures, and other terms relevant to the chapter would also be added to Section 9-2-2.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. today in Council Chambers at City Hall, and the public hearing will occur near its start.