It turns out there were two reasons why we had yet seen Saline Main Street’s holiday message, projected onto the brick wall of Smokehouse 52 in downtown Saline.
Last year, to add holiday cheer to downtown Saline, Saline Main Street projected holiday messages on the wall over Brecon Grille at the four corners. The downtown revitalization group used a projector mounted on a building across Ann Arbor Street.
That display had not yet been seen yet in 2019.
Reached Monday afternoon, Saline Main Street Executive Director Holli Andrews said the projector was malfunctioning. New bulbs had been ordered and were being installed Monday afternoon.
But there was also another reason.
The holiday decor not permitted, according to the city's sign ordinance.
Last night, the city took care of that, amending the city’s sign ordinance to allow projections and beacons, like the one used by First United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve last year, by permit. The ordinance amendment, drafted by the city’s code review task force, was also approved by the city’s planning commission.
Projections will be allowed between 5 p.m. and midnight for no more than 40 days in any calendar year.
City Manager Todd Campbell noted that prior to the amendment, the projections and beacons were not permitted by ordinance. A couple of years ago, Saline resident Mary Hess was told she would need to apply for a variance, which costs hundreds of dollars, to use a beacon at First United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve.
Councilor Janet Dillon asked if the city was setting itself up for nuisance completes by amending the ordinance.
“I guess what I want to make sure is that we're not creating unintentional nuisances for others. You've got some beacon that's going straight up, if you're in a residential area, is that lighting up your whole neighborhood?” Dillon asked.
Councillor Dean Girbach said the city could review for such issues in the permitting process.
Dillon asked if the city was going to have a consistent approach to permitting.
Councilor Linda TerHaar said the city’s code review task force raised the questions Dillon brought up - and many more - in its consideration of the language.
“I can say that all of the questions that (Dillon) brought up, and many more, were raised by the Code Review Task Force. We went back and forth with city attorney and answered all of these questions,” TerHaar said. “We were satisfied at the end of the discussion that the way the ordinance was written dealt with all of the concerns and issues that we had raised, while allowing Saline Main Street and the church to do what they wanted to do.”
Mayor Brian Marl said Andrews and Pastor Tom Zimmerman provided valuable input on the process.
Council voted 6-0 to approve the ordinance amendment.