City Commission Overview


Tuesday at 5 p.m., the city commission gathered to hear about proposals on changing Manhattan’s sign regulations and to discuss the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.

Presenting the new proposal on sign regulation was Chad Bunger, senior planner for the city of Manhattan. Based on research and information gathered from focus groups, Bunger said it would place certain restrictions on signs for businesses and other institutions based on which district the sign is located within.

For example, low-density residential districts would be limited to a single, 2-square-foot wall sign with no digital capabilities. Larger districts would face few changes other than more simple dimensions guidelines and new fees. Digital signs would be restricted to simple numbers and letters, unless a special event permit is received. The purpose of these proposals is to simply provide order to the signs around Manhattan.

Karen McCulloh, city commissioner, said the signs in Manhattan are easier to read when compared to the “wreckage” of signs in Wichita, based on her recent visit. According to McCulloh, these proposals are reasonable, but she had concerns over the flat $25 per sign fee that would cover the insurance in case anything were to happen to the sign or people around it.

“We need to look at the true costs,” McCulloh said.

Mayor Wynn Butler said he agreed with McCulloh, that more research should be done to make sure this is a reasonable fee. Sign registration and payment would be done online.

Not everyone was impressed with the proposals. Chris Elsey, owner of Elsey Partners, said the new regulations would cause problems for his business, which relies heavily on signs.

“We’ve surveyed (the tenants) and found that all of them had found out about us from driving past signs,” Elsey said.

Elsey suggested that the size of the signs in residential districts should be proportional to the size of the lot. According to the new proposal, his larger complex would have the same sized sign as his one family-house neighbor. Elsey said that Manhattan’s rental market is not doing so great; he would like to be able to continue to advertise his business to fill more properties.

Also presented at the meeting by Kiel Mangus, assistant city manager, was an assessment review for implementing Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award organizational improvements. The award goes to outstanding companies and local governments that are participating in the performance excellence process. The program focuses on leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, workforce focus, operations focus, results and measurement, analysis and knowledge management. Those who apply for the award are scored on each of these issues. No Kansas company or government has yet to win the award.

“This is like shooting for an Olympic medal,” Butler said.

Certain issues, such as budget, need to be looked over before any steps can be made. While there is no exact cost for implementing the program, there are several costs such as surveys and consultations to consider.

Concerns include the time commitment involved with setting up this program and whether it could save Manhattan and its citizens money or cost more than expected.

“If there are costs associated with (the award), we need to justify them,” Ron Fehr, city manager, said.

Hi everyone! I'm was a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.