Editorial: Public hearing notice signs in need of makeover

Who hasn’t ever had the experience of spotting one of those small “public hearing notice” signs in or around the city?

The signs, usually 14 by 22 inches, are attached to a flat wooden stick that is stuck in the ground. The purpose of the signs is to alert nearby residents and property owners to proposed zoning or land-use changes in the area.

Some of the machine-printed words on the signs are easy enough to read, but other information is handwritten with a marker. To say these words are difficult to read from the vantage point of a passing vehicle is an understatement.

One current sign on Sale Road in

Lake Charles is a case in point. It’s a notice of a City Council hearing

to consider annexation

of a piece of property and assign it a residential zoning

classification. The identifying name given to this bit of city business

is Res 13-55 and 13-56. One can hear all about it at 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 18 in the City Council chambers. It’s all there on the

sign. But the sign is red and the handwritten words were added

with a black marker. Black on red is difficult to read, and

the hand-written words are small. Not only does one need to park

their vehicle and walk up to the sign to read it, but a ditch

must be jumped across and the reader must stoop down and get close

to take it all in.

Is there a better way?

Signage issues like this are not

unique to Lake Charles or Calcasieu Parish. Folks in St. Tammany Parish

in eastern Louisiana

have heard complaints from residents about these types of signs

set out by the parish government. People have complained that

the signs are too small, don’t contain adequate information and

are often obstructed.

St. Tammany Parish officials plan

to enlarge the 18-by-24-inch yellow, corrugated plastic signs that are

currently is use.

They will also begin notifying property owners within 500 feet of a

rezoning or land-use case by mail under a new procedure.

The parish government also plans to

tweak its Web site, www.stpgov.org, early next year to include a map that

will be marked with

pins showing the locations of pending planning and zoning cases.

The user will be able to hover over a pin to see information

about each case.

With Southwest Louisiana set to undergo an explosion of growth, public hearing notice signs will no doubt be popping up like

mushrooms everywhere. Making them easier to read would be a good thing to do.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.