The Medford City Council will consider changing an ordinance that would expand the area where signs up to 50 feet tall would be allowed along Interstate 5. These signs light up the corner of Barnett Road and Alba Drive in Medford. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell

A Tall Order

Motorists traveling along Interstate 5 could be greeted with more tall advertising signs in Medford in the future.

The Medford City Council will consider changing an ordinance at 7 p.m. Thursday that would expand the area where tall signs would be allowed.

Signs that could be up to 50 feet tall and 250 square feet in size would be allowed within a 500-foot radius of the north and south Medford interchange access ramps.

In addition, signs already in place at the former Barnett Road interchange would still be allowed.

Jim Huber, Medford's planning director, said he doesn't expect to see a lot of new signs as a result of the ordinance.

"We haven't heard from anybody," he said.

Tall signs tend to be expensive, so not many businesses want to build them, Huber said.

However, if a property owner wants to lease land, the option of putting in a sign might be an incentive to a possible tenant, he said.

The city has a special commercial zoning that allows highly visible signs at 72 parcels at the north Medford interchange and at the former interchange at Barnett Road.

The issue came up partly because the south Medford interchange was moved south. Now, the businesses along Barnett Road have tall signs, while businesses closer to the new interchange do not.

The new ordinance would allow tall signs within an area almost one mile long on either side of the south Medford interchange, from approximately Charlotte Ann Drive on the south end to just past Barnett Road on the north.

At the north Medford interchange, the signs would be allowed along a 4,000-foot area on each side of the freeway, from just north of McAndrews Road to north of Hilton Court.

The tall sign ordinance is not related to the City Council's approval of placing advertising on the Medford airport traffic control tower.

In June, the Medford City Council overrode a Planning Commission decision that would have prohibited installing any new tall signs.

The Planning Commission found tall signs are less useful now, particularly because businesses can get their names placed on the blue signs along the freeway. Also, digital location devices help make it easier for motorists to find a business, the planning commission determined.

However, local business operators told the council they still found the signs useful in attracting customers.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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