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Electronic signs approved

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:29 PM

The impetus came from township officials wanting to place one of the high-tech message signs in front of the 174th Avenue fire barn.

In a classic “goose and gander” move, the board unanimously approved electronic signs for all businesses in industrial and light-industrial zoning district, with restrictions — text cannot scroll or flash, and is also limited in size.

Before reaching a decision on the zoning amendment earlier this week, township attorney Ron Bultje told the board that it is legally possible for them not to follow their own ordinances.

“There's an old common-law theory that the king doesn't have to abide by his own rules,” Bultje said. “The old English principle says a king can violate his own rules. The township could say, 'It's our ordinance — we don't have to live by it.'”

Township Trustee Ron Lindquist, who also serves on the township's Planning Commission, said commissioners didn't feel the “doesn't apply to me” approach is a sensible one.

“That's what we wanted to avoid,” he explained. “If it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander. We look at this as being a very workable solution.”

Township Supervisor John Nash agreed.

“I don't like the idea that any government entity can make rules and then not abide by them,” he said. "We're making sure what we'd like to do is consistent with our rules.”

The fire station sign will alert residents to township events —meetings, fire prevention week, elections, dumpster days and the like.

Board members said they don't expect a rush of industrial-zoned land owners putting up electronic signs.

“Manufacturers really don't have a lot to advertise,” Nash said. “They just want people to know where they're located.”

Text will be allowed to change in 10-second intervals, and the electronic portion of the sign will be limited to 10 square feet.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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