Bus benches were a topic of discussion again in Orem but still didn't get the City Council's approval as advertising sites.
Instead, an amendment is going to be made to the sign ordinance prohibiting advertising on such outdoor furniture.The Orem City Council heard a variety of opinions about bus benches and how they ought to be used during the work session held Tuesday evening.
Previously, the council in power in December passed an ordinance allowing bus benches in commercial zones but had not fully addressed whether advertising could be placed upon them.
Tuesday, a service development representative from the Utah Transit Authority, said the bus service can provide up to 100 bus benches and/or bus shelters in Orem sans advertising.
"The UTA and the UTA board does not permit signage at their shelters," said Pete Baumgart. He said the benches provided by the UTA would be a metal and plastic combination bench that is easily washed and maintained.
He said it would be a problem, however, for the bus benches to be located on private property - as many in Orem would have to be.
"We have a real concern dealing with private property owners," he said. "We prefer to work with commercial owners."
The bus bench ordinance being drafted by Orem's staff would have stipulated that each bench be on private property since Orem sidewalks are mostly only four feet wide.
Council members and the mayor agreed that the bus bench issue breaks into two different discussions: whether to have bus benches at all and then whether to begin allowing off-premise advertising.
Councilman Bill Peperone said that really takes Orem in a new direction.
Councilman Mike Thompson said the input he's getting shows senior citizens really want bus benches but no one wants the advertizing signs on them.
Planning commissioners ReNae Brereton and Lisa Deason said the planning commission and staff members are united in their opposition to the off-site advertising.
"And that is unusual, rare," Deason said. "I think it's the only time I've seen it."
Deason added that the only reason the commission took a second look at the issue was because the council asked it to and not because anyone changed their mind.
"Look at the bus bench on the corner of the Olive Garden's property in Provo," Brereton said. "The Brick Oven pizza comes up above the bench and blocks the view of the business that's right there."
Bill Hanson, a bus bench advertiser, said there is a need for bus benches and having advertising on them allows free enterprise to save taxpayers the cost of providing them.
"We saw a need a while back that wasn't being addressed. We have a number of businesses interested and I think you ought to allow businesses to advertise where they are located," he said.
Bus benches are going to be a reality in Orem, offered resident Dean Dickerson. "This is a matter for private business and I'm grateful it can't be regulated. I'm grateful for the First Amendment."