July 2012

Mayors JUly 2012

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

A Sign of the Times
As Town Council considered changes to our Land Management’s (LMO) sign ordinance, I began hearing that we were on our way to becoming anywhere USA.

Neon lights, signs on trailers, and fluorescent signs advertising any business anywhere was on the way to Hilton Head Island. So let me take this opportunity to explain what Council adopted when it amended our sign ordinance.

The amendments are not a large-scale overhaul of the sign standards; the standards regulating number, location, size, materials, colors, lighting, landscaping and overall design standards of permanent, highly visible commercial signs will not change.

The amendments to the LMO sign standards were changed for several reasons:
The sign standards were contained in two chapters of the LMO, which can be confusing, and some language was unclear and needed to be clarified, both through changes in text and through the addition of photographs.

In working with business owners, sign manufacturers and our residents over the years, staff identified ways in which the sign code could be more flexible and helpful to business owners while still maintaining the character of Hilton Head Island.

Since the standards were adopted in 1987, there have been changes in sign technology (notably the trend of video/electronic signs), and the code needed to be amended to make it clear that these types of signs are not permitted on Hilton Head Island.

There have been many challenges to the constitutionality of sign regulations in other municipalities, generally due to the regulation of political signs and the lack of both a strong purpose statement and a severability clause. These items have all been corrected in the amendments to the sign ordinance.

To accomplish the above, staff worked to clarify the purpose of the standards, reorganize the standards in a format that is easy to read and understand, and provide examples of signs that meet the intent of the Town’s Design Guide.

The most notable changes are:
Each business will be allowed to use one high-quality portable sign outside of the business to advertise specials or sales. The sign may be placed no more than 10 feet from the main entrance of the business and may not block pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Each business will be allowed to have holiday decorations (excluding string lights) year-round instead of just between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The time frame when string lights will be allowed is now earlier—Nov 1 instead of the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Large special events (such as Wing Fest or Rib Fest) may legally use banners or other temporary signs to advertise sales within the boundary of the events.

So you see we didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We’ve simply improved another element of our LMO.

Bluffton Police Earn Reaccreditation

The Bluffton Police successfully passed all criteria to be awarded their first reaccreditation certificate for another three years. The department was first accredited in 2009. This year, because of compliance with a number of standards, the department was awarded “advanced accreditation”

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., (CALEA®) was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and recognizing professional excellence.

Specifically, CALEA’s goals are to:
Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities
Formalize essential management procedures
Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices
Improve service delivery
Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination, and Increase community and staff confidence in the agency.

The CALEA Accreditation Process is a proven modern management model; once implemented, it presents the chief executive officer (CEO), on a continuing basis, with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves service delivery, regardless of the size, geographic location, or functional responsibilities of the agency.

This accreditation program provides public safety agencies an opportunity to demonstrate voluntarily that they meet an established set of professional standards which:

Require an agency to develop a comprehensive, well thought out, uniform set of written directives. This is one of the most successful methods for reaching administrative and operational goals, while also providing direction to personnel.
Provide the necessary reports and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions.

Require a preparedness program be put in place—so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made critical incidents.
Are a means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community.

Strengthen an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.

Can limit an agency’s liability and risk exposure, because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.
Facilitates an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.

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