Four years after a review process began for a proposed illuminated sign at Madison Middle School, the city has announced a decision: The sign installation is approved, “with conditions.” Some neighbors had expressed concern after the 30-square-foot sign was first proposed in 2009 for the east facade of the school gym. Discussion here at that time indicated the money was coming from parent fundraising as well as from grants and gifts. After the proposal languished for three years, it resurfaced last June, with the city convening the committee formed to consider a requested “departure” from zoning, and now comes the decision. Today’s notice opens a two-week period for appeals, with the deadline May 29th; we’re asking the district about the project’s status.
ADDED 1:51 PM FRIDAY: District spokesperson Tom Redman replied today to our inquiry. He included background, some of which is redundant to our story above, but in the spirit of sharing everything the district said, his full reply is below:
The Madison PTSA proposed to purchase and install an electronic reader board sign on the east face of the gymnasium about 4 years ago.
The PTSA applied for and received Department of Neighborhood Matching Funds toward the cost of the sign. The PTSA raised funds to cover the balance of the costs.
Because Madison is situated in a Residential Zone (as are the majority of our schools), a “Departure” from (city of Seattle) Design Standards is necessary to allow the changing image sign.
A Departure was requested, but then temporarily placed on hold, because there was a possibility the Land Use Code would be revised to allow this type of sign outright. But that did not occur. So the process was started up again last spring.
In June of last year, Department of Neighborhoods (responsible for overseeing the Departure process), convened a school/community based committee to review the proposal and make a recommendation.
· This past week, the city issued their decision to grant the Departure, with conditions.
· The conditions concern the limited timeframe the sign can be illuminated during week days and weekends; messages must be non-commercial, and community messages (e.g. community council meetings) can comprise only a small percent of overall messaging; and no flashing images allowed.
The PTSA will order the sign, and when it arrives, it will be installed by the sign company.
Todd Crooks, PTSA representative, would have the cost information. We don’t have information regarding gifts or donations.
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