Downtown Kearney signs

Pam Long of Arnold, her daughter, Sheila Long and granddaughter, Keller Long, 5, of Kearney, stroll Saturday past The Rustic Patch store at 2110 Central Ave. in Downtown Kearney: The Bricks. The business employs a sign painted on its window, but an assortment of signs can be found downtown and around Kearney. A proposed sign ordinance on Tuesday’s Kearney City Council agenda lists 56 names for various sign types.

KEARNEY — Kearney’s updated sign codes will take effect Oct. 1, following a 4-0 vote Tuesday by the Kearney City Council on a package of updates made necessary by a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that negated an Arizona city’s sign laws.

The court ruled that Gilbert, Ariz., was violating the free speech rights of a church because the city’s law allowed signs to be prohibited because of what they said.

Kearney’s new ordinance sets exacting standards for a broad range of signs, including where signs can be placed, how large they can be, when permits are necessary to use signs and qualifications for sign installers.

In addition to accommodating free speech, the updated sign ordinance aims to simplify the city code and ensure traffic safety. A variety of rules are intended to ensure that signs don’t block the vision of motorists or create visual clutter and distractions.

“These proposed code amendments will maintain Kearney’s current signage character, remove content-based regulations and simplify the application of sign code,” according to a memo to City Council members from Brenda Jensen, assistant development services director.

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Jensen said sign installers were asked for their suggestions, and the changes were reviewed by the Kearney Planning Commission.

The new code lists 56 names for different sign types and specifies where they can be, how tall and large they can be, how many there can be, and, in the case of electronic signs, how they should function so they don’t confuse or distract motorists.

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