Citing city code, Brier says no to middle school’s new electronic readerboard

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The current non-electronic readerboard at Brier-Terrace Middle School.

Story and photo by Doug Petrowski

Students, parents, PTSA members and staff of Brier-Terrace Middle School spent months raising money to purchase a new electronic readerboard for the school campus. Now that the funds have been raised, the sign picked out and its location decided upon, the City of Brier has said no to the project.

City officials point to a portion of Brier city code 17.38.070: “Artificially lighted signs must be nonflashing with no movement or simulated movement, and shall be located as to not produce glare on neighboring properties nor to interfere in any way with traffic signals or traffic signs.” For now, Brier officials are standing firm and not allowing the electronic readerboard to go up because of the sign’s capacity of flashing images and moving typeface.

Edmonds School District Capital Improvements Design and Construction Manager Nick Chou is trying to negotiate with the city to obtain a variance on the code. “I’m a problem solver,” Chou declared, and described the continuing talks with city officials as “part of the process.”

“The sign would be put up on our property, facing our north parking lot,” Chou explained. “It’s not affecting anyone or anything else.” The sign’s placement next to an existing readerboard on the school’s gym cannot be seen from neighboring homes or roads.

Chou is confident the issue can be resolved. He points out that in any other jurisdiction that the district works with (Snohomish County and the cities of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace) the electronic readerboard would be allowed. Mountlake Terrace High School has a similar sign just a mile or so away from Brier-Terrace Middle School; Hilltop Elementary, on Damson Road in Lynnwood, has the same readerboard up and operational that Brier-Terrace wants to purchase.

The school raised more than $11,000 to purchase the sign; the Edmonds School District is providing matching funds for the project. If the City of Brier holds its ground and refuses to allow the readerboard, school officials state they will find some other use for the money.

But not for anything that flashes or emits light.

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