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Heidi Shaffer, Published January 25 2011

Fargo City Commission repeals disputed sign code

Fargo’s sign code is back to what it was 18 months ago when the city began the ordinance’s overhaul.

The City Commission voted unanimously Monday to repeal the much-debated code and reinstate the previous sign ordinance.

Last month, owners in the portable sign industry filed a petition to refer the code to voters. The commission had the option Monday to repeal the ordinance altogether or put it on the June 2012 ballot.

The months of negotiation fueled much protest from the sign industry, but commissioners voted 5-0 with little discussion to repeal the ordinance.

But the new code isn’t dead, said City Commissioner Brad Wimmer, who sat on the committee that overhauled the document.

Wimmer said he plans to take the ordinance back to the committee or planning commission, rework it and bring forward the parts of the code with which the sign industry can agree.

Portable sign leaders said the new code is too restrictive on where and how long their fixtures are allowed.

The portion that deals with portable signs could still be determined by voters, Wimmer said.

“I think we need to put some language on the ballot to address what should be done with the portable signs,” Wimmer said.

Sign Shop owner Jim Patterson said he isn’t sure what to think about the commission’s move to repeal the ordinance.

Patterson said he would have rather had the issue go on the ballot.

“Then they could have seen what the citizens of Fargo want,” Patterson said. “Now, we’ll never know.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511