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Highway businesses allowed taller signage

Businesses near major highways are now allowed to have taller signs.

The city of Perham has revised its highway commercial signage ordinance to allow signs up to 50 feet in height, giving businesses near high-traffic roadways greater visibility.

Under the previous ordinance, adopted in 2008, signs could reach a maximum height of 35 feet, both downtown and near the highway. The new ordinance does not change the height restriction for downtown businesses.

The issue arose after the owners of Perham McDonald's - opening this month - expressed their wish to erect a tall 'golden arches' sign, as seen at many of the chain restaurants.

Before that, said city manager Kelcey Klemm, the city's 35-feet ordinance had not been a problem - even though it imposed stricter height rules for highway commercial zones than the ordinance before it did. 

Other businesses on the south side of town near Highway 10 - Perham's main highway commercial zone - already have signs at heights exceeding 35 feet, as they were put up before 2008.

"This brings us back in line with where we were before," said the city's building official, Dave Neisen, at a special city council meeting last week. "The signs that tall that are out there now don't seem to be a hindrance to anybody, and they do draw people into town off the highway, which is good for town."

The council approved the change at the meeting, on the recommendation of the Perham Planning Commission.

The ordinance applies to freestanding signs. Only one freestanding sign is permitted on a premise. Additional monument signs of eight feet in height or less may be allowed if a property abuts two or more public streets.