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Commission joins sign ordinance discussion

The Courthouse Square Historic Preservation Commission will join discussions to update the city’s sign ordinance to add definitions for awning, marquees and window decals.

The commission regulates historic properties around the Square. A copy of the proposed changes is also being reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission, which regulates the historic downtown neighborhoods.

The commissions will review the changes and vote on whether to recommend their approval to the Oxford Board of Aldermen.

The ordinance would add awnings, marquees and window decals to the definition of signage on a building. An awning that has lettering on it will be considered signage and will be allowed to be externally illuminated but internal illumination will not be permitted. A marquee is a sign mount- ed to a permanent canopy and window signage will include decals, signs painted on glass

The number of free- standing signs is limited to one per lot, provided that where a lot has frontage on two public streets and has a minimum frontage of 300 feet on either street and a combined frontage greater than 650 feet, the number of freestanding signs may be increased to two. The number of wall signs shall be limited to two signs and shall include business identification, logo, or product advertising signs.

If the changes are accepted by the Board of Aldermen, awnings, window and marquee signs that display busi- ness advertisement, will be included in the calculation of the number of signs.

Other changes

Other proposed additions to the ordinance for the historic districts include allowing businesses only one interior illuminated business sign that is located within a 3-foot radius and visible from a window. The sign cannot flash or move and will not exceed 4 square feet in size.

In multi-tenant buildings, each street level tenant may have all signage as outlined by the ordinance. Upper-story tenants are permitted to display an entry into the building’s directory.

The ordinance also would state that all commercial signs are subject to the approval of the Courthouse Square or the Oxford Historic Preservation commissions in the downtown area.

The commission members were invited to attend a work session with the city’s ordinance review committee to flush out the proposed ordinance change.

The commission is also reviewing changes to the city’s Certificate of Appropriateness applications that are filled out by homeowners and developers when seeking approval for changes and additions made to homes and businesses in the historic districts.

The proposed application would be available to fill out online, making it more user friendly. The former application did not contain wording that told the COA applicant everything that is required to be part of the application package including detailed construction plans and mate- rials being used.

The site plan should indicate property lines, setbacks, location of the structure or proposed location of a new struc- ture, accessory building, parking facilities, exterior lighting, fencing, land- scaping and screening for utilities. The application must include photographs of the existing structure, of if new construction, a photograph of the lot and the adjoining structures.

Assistant planner Ben Requet said the new online version of the application would make things easier.

“For us and for the applicant,” he said.

Commissioner Judy Riddell suggested verbiage be added to the application that explains if the commission requires an architect, hired by the COA applicant, to make changes to the plans and that the architect fails to make those changes, the applicant is responsible.

The commission will review the COA application and vote whether to approve it at its March meeting.

In other business Monday, the commission:

— Approved the COA for a sign for Community Mortgage Corp. at 400 S. Lamar Blvd.

— Approved an addition for storage, plans to restore a window opening and other minor amendments for Saint Leo’s at 1101 Jackson Ave. The commission did not approve the addition of a gas lantern.