Church hopes that county sign code changes

Members want to update the old sign with a digital one. - Leslie Kelly
Members want to update the old sign with a digital one.
— image credit: Leslie Kelly

Every time the Silverdale United Methodist Church wants to update members with a message on its sign, someone has to get a box of plastic letters, put on a coat and head out to where the sign sits alongside busy Silverdale Way.

“It’s like being in the dark ages,” said Rev. Ed Denton, minister at the Silverdale church. “We’d like to have a system where we could change our sign without having to go outside to do it.”

Denton and the church’s board of trustees have been contemplating their options in the past months and have been surprised to find that right now, they can’t put up a digital reader-board sign.

According to Eric Baker, who staffs the county commissioner’s office, the current county sign code doesn’t allow for digital signs. There have been, however, exemptions for such places as the YMCA on Randall Way in Silverdale and the sign at the Kitsap County Fairgounds.

“The code is very restrictive as to height and size of signs and it prohibits electronic signs,” he said. “We’re in the process right now of updating the sign code.”

But according to County Commissioner Josh Brown, that process could take up to a year.

“We haven’t updated the sign code in the last 20 years,” he said. “I’m not interested in making Silverdale or Kingston or any part of the county look like Las Vegas. But with the new LED technology that is out there, we need to make some changes and bring our code up to date.”

For Denton, it’s as simple as wanting to post funeral services on the church’s sign.

“If we had a way of just typing something from the office that would announce a funeral service and then being able to change the message later, that would be a big help,” he said. “As it is now, we are very limited as to space and the number of words we can use and if we want to change the sign, we have to go out in all types of weather and pull off letters and put on other letters — it’s really outdated.”

With a digital sign he said the church would be able to post longer messages and would be able to communicate more information to passers-by.

An example of how limiting the current sign is, Denton last week wanted to post a message in the native language of some visitors from the Philippines. But, he said, he barely had room for it and the translation in English.

The church would like to be able to replace its sign with a larger, more modern digital sign so it can more easily be read. Constraints of the sign code prohibit that, and he said the sign would have to be moved to accommodate electrical and cable lines.

The kind of signs he’s looked into range from $5,000 to $30,000 depending on what they can do, he said.

Brown said the sign code is part of the county’s Title 17 that also addresses zoning issues. He said the county is establishing focus groups for all the major issues under Title 17 and expects to have reports and suggestions from those focus groups back to the county for action within the next year.

“The focus would be to make it (Title 17) a lean and business-friendly process that is easy to use and easy to administer,” Brown said. “As far as signs go, I’m sure there are some things we can do that can be tastefully done and that are worthy of discussion.”

In the meantime, Rev. Denton said they’ll continue to use their current sign and take turns going out in the rain to change the message.


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