Local businesses gathered at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce last week to discuss the proposed changes to the McAllen Business Signage Rules. The proposed changes are for new guidelines for banners, billboards, flags, neon signs, murals, pole signs window signs and vehicle signs.

The proposed McAllen Sign Ordinance will phase out larger signs in the city for smaller monument signs. A monument sign is defined as a freestanding sign supported by bases on the ground. Local business people attending the meeting voiced their concerns over the proposed regulations and questioned why the city wanted to make the changes.

It has been a year since the sign ordinance was introduced and concerned business owners said this is something the city of McAllen does not need now, because of the weak economy. However, the committee that developed the sign ordinance said this is being done to beautify McAllen, for aesthetics and safety reasons.

A local business owner said having the city tell a business what type of sign they should have and what it should say is a clear freedom of speech issue. “The city is limiting our freedom of speech, telling us what to say,” the man said.

According to the proposed sign ordinance, existing pole signs would be “grandfathered” under the law, and signs along Exp. 83 would not be subject to the same requirements.

Many said changing the rules will not work because the old ordinance was never really enforced. “This city wants to be a dedicated town that encourages big businesses, we want to make sure businesses prosper,” the concerned businessman said. “Will McAllen continue to be the fastest growing city if officials are not supporting the local businesses?”

“My generation is the future of the businesses in McAllen,” said R.C. Cepeda from Sir Kingston. “I started here, I want to stay here and not go to another city.”

City officials were not able to comment or explain why they decided to make the changes for the signs. The Board of Commissioners will review the draft regulations in a workshop scheduled for Monday, July 27, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers.