By Betsy Dolan
Large vehicles displaying a company name that are parked in lots and used as an advertising tool have been banned by the Missouri City Council.
The move is an effort to combat visual pollution in the city as well as ensure that business owners comply with the city’s sign ordinance which was adopted in August.
“When you have signs on those big trucks that are larger than any other fixed sign in Missouri City they are trying to circumvent our fixed signs ordinance and they are advertising without paying a signage fee,” said Councilman Don Smith.
The plan prohibits vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or more from being used as portable signs. The ordinance allows the large vehicles and trailers to be parked behind businesses.
In addition, smaller vehicles with signs must be parked 15 feet away from the front edge of the business’ parking lot.
Industrial zones as well as passenger vans that carry no more than 15 people are exempt.
Initially Smith favored a ban that only targeted large trucks and the requirement that they park out of sight. But Councilman Jerry Wyatt expressed concerns that too much lee-way in the ordinance would not serve the intended purpose.
“We have places that we have seen where people park in front of the businesses or on the side”, Wyatt said. “They’ll still be able to do that unless we prohibit it.”
Gary Smith, Missouri City’s Director of Developmental Services, told the council that there are 46 individual businesses and strip centers where the only place to park is in the front of the building.
“I’m not saying their vehicles are there. It’s a question of whether or not they could wind up there,” Smith said.
Robert Richter, a Missouri City municipal court judge, told the council that the old vehicle sign ordinance was vague and made it difficult to prosecute offenders.
“It was awfully loose,” Richter said. “It simply says ‘vehicle signs are prohibited’. But what is the definition of a vehicle sign?”
City Council requested that attendees at the city-wide HOA meeting in July be polled to find the community’s preference for regulation of business signs on vehicles.