ASHLAND — The city will allow small, three-dimensional signs to be displayed outside its historical districts. But Alfredo the Waiter still is not welcome in town.

ASHLAND — The city will allow small, three-dimensional signs to be displayed outside its historical districts. But Alfredo the Waiter still is not welcome in town.

On April 7, the council voted to allow 3-D signs, including figures, in Ashland's historic districts, such as the downtown area. Signs can be as large as 3 cubic feet, about the amount of space taken up by a barber pole.

But a council majority voted against a proposal to loosen the city's restrictive sign code enough to allow 20-cubic-foot signs or figures outside historic districts. That could have allowed the 6-foot-tall Alfredo the Waiter statue to return to his post outside Wiley's World Pasta Shoppe & Eatery on Ashland Street.

A majority of councilors said they feared allowing large three-dimensional signs and figures could lead to visual clutter.

This week, however, the council voted to allow businesses outside historic districts to have signs and figures that are up to 3 cubic feet in size. That mirrors what will be allowed inside historic districts once a package of sign code changes goes into effect in about 30 days.

"It's making the sign code consistent throughout the city," said Councilman Greg Lemhouse. "I thought that was fair. That gives businesses outside the downtown the same opportunities as businesses in the downtown."

Lemhouse had favored letting businesses outside the downtown have signs and figures as large as 20 cubic feet.

A package of changes that was given initial approval by the council on April 7 will allow signs on the third and fourth sides of buildings, as long as public entrances are on those sides. The current sign code allows signs only on two sides of buildings.

Another sign code change could benefit hard-to-find businesses that are in alleys or tucked away behind parking lots. The city will develop a program to put up signs that point the way to those businesses.

The sign code changes include allowances for sandwich board signs, menu signs and wind signs.

Ashland officials have yet to make the changes that would allow The Black Sheep's lion, the Bug A Boo toy store's giraffe and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's teddy bear to be on the sidewalk legally.

Those animals garnered the most public attention after the city cracked down on sign code violations in 2008. Concern over the crackdown prompted a city review of the sign code.

To address the issue of stuffed animals and other figures on the sidewalk, public works department and legal department staff will draft code revision proposals that relate to the use of public property, such as the commercial use of sidewalks in front of businesses.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.