Cambridge resolves issues with non-profit signage

Rachel Kytonen

For the past few months, the Cambridge City Council has heard concerns from non-profit organizations relating to the placement of signs to promote local fundraising events.

Representatives from non-profits have spoken to the council about how the restrictions placed on the signs under the city’s sign ordinance, makes it hard for them to promote their events. Non-profit representatives explained their fundraising activities help benefit area community organizations.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, April 18, the council approved by a 4-1 vote an ordinance relating to temporary signs and non-profit organizations. Council Member Bob Shogren cast the dissenting vote.

City Planner Marcia Westover explained under the ordinance there will be no fees charged to non-profit signs, but permits are required for signage.

At the time of the temporary sign permit application, a non-profit must prove their non-profit status by attaching a copy of their non-profit designation.

Westover said the signs will be allowed in all zoning districts, but can’t be placed in city, county or state right-of-ways or in any intersection’s line of site triangle.

Westover also explained the owner the property where the sign is to be placed must sign the sign permit application, and signs shall only be allowed for 30 day intervals.

Maximum size of the signs will be 32 square feet, and a maximum of four temporary signs per event can be located in any zoning district. Only one non-profit or civic organization temporary sign is allowed on a property at a time.

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer said the city has spent a lot of time researching the issue.

“This hopefully will bring this issue to an end,” Palmer said. “We have a spent a number of hours working on this. Thank you Marcia [Westover] for working on this, and all the city staff who have worked on this issue.”

Shogren felt businesses were not being treated equally under the ordinance.

“If we do this we are treating different parts of our community differently, and as an entity of government we should be treating all people equal,” Shogren said. “If we approve this we are doing a disservice … and it seems like we are penalizing people for wanting to make a living.”

Herman’s Bakery parking

The Herman’s Bakery parking issue has been resolved.

At the Feb. 7 council meeting, a discussion was held on winter parking issues for the bakery. Late night downtown parking is an issue due to the winter parking restrictions that doesn’t allow for parking on city streets and lots from 2 to 7 a.m.

Owner Lois Oestrich said at that meeting Herman’s Bakery employees work around-the-clock and do have employees parking in the lot behind their bakery.

Oestrich said over the past 30 years, the city would always call the bakery to let them know when they would be doing snow plowing, and the employees would immediately move their cars.

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe said given the hours of operation for the bakery, moving forward it’s staff recommendation to continue the current practice of having the police department call the bakery to inform them the employees need to move their cars from the lot so the snow can be removed.

Woulfe explained this will be easier than declaring it a snow-emergency lot and then recording a message about plowing on the public works telephone system.

If cars remain in the lot after the call, the city will need to tow any remaining cars so the lot can be plowed, Woulfe explained.

After discussion, by a 4-1 vote with Shogren casting the dissenting vote, the council approved the agreement.

Woulfe said she wanted something on the official record and in the minutes stating the agreement had been approved by the council.

Shogren again reiterated the fact that the city isn’t treating all businesses equally.

“Again this is a prime example of the city of Cambridge treating different entities and businesses differently,” Shogren said. “As a government, we are supposed to treat everyone the same. This is unfair for the people who have to abide by the [winter parking] ordinance. Should the police department have to call  everyone who has a car parked on a city street or in a city lot after 2 a.m.?”

Woulfe explained the solution was the best solution the city could come up with, and follows the current practice relating to Herman’s Bakery.

Palmer said she called some residents regarding the matter, and they encouraged the city to be as business-friendly as possible.

“Herman’s Bakery has been around a long time, and employs around 30 people,” Palmer said. “There are a lot of older people who work there and we need to keep them safe, and not having them have to travel far distances to their car. There are some exceptions that have to be made.”

Shogren explained his views on the matter weren’t personal toward Herman’s Bakery, and said he enjoys eating at the bakery.

“This is in regard to the inconsistent decisions the Cambridge City Council has made in regard to businesses in the community,” Shogren said.

In other action the council:

• Approved a contract with B&M Lawn and Landscape, Inc. to perform moving services as needed at a rate of $80 per hour. Mowing services will used for properties in violation of the city code. The city first notifies the owner in writing of the violation and if the grass and weeds are not removed, the city will request the contractor to mow the property.

• Approved a request for a street closure along Second Avenue between Spirit River Drive and Fern Street for the MS Walk for a Cure event to be held May 1. The closure will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Approved a resolution authorizing a conditional use permit for a pawn shop to be located at 306 Garfield Street S., doing business as Midwest Gun and Pawn, LLC. The business was initially authorized a CUP when it was considering locating at a different location in town along 1st Ave., and that CUP was surrendered.

• Approved a contract with SEH, Inc. for a Wastewater Facility Plan review at cost not to exceed $73,500. The funds have been budgeted, and will come out of the city’s waste water fund.