Steve Fennell's statement in the paper concerning the Evans Town Center ban on outdoor displays should raise red flags and alarm every citizen in the county. He stated:
"That was a great plan when it was implemented back in 1995 but part of what's taken place here is business and commerce and everyday change. These buildings coming in here along with the Home Depot going catty-cornered, are evidence that the initial plan probably needs a little revision".
Well, hello! We didn't put those regulations in for an interim time period until the big boxes get here. We put them into effect to regulate the big boxes when they got here. That was and is the intent of the plan's rules to begin with - to prevent junky eyesores like this from happening. The plan was designed with the future in mind, and these businesses knew the rules before they chose their site. They accepted the rules then, and should have designed their storage and display plans accordingly.
If the commissioners let these kind of businesses get away with eroding our rules one step at a time, then all our nodal overlays will be picked to death and it will snowball into total destruction of not only the rules themselves, but the overall beauty of our county.
Furthermore, the concern about needing to be in competition with Home Depot and the other big boxes is pure poppycock. If all businesses follow the same rules, then the playing ground will be level and all will be on "equal footing."
As for the statement that "local customers come and question why lawn mowers aren't in front and get the perception they aren't carrying them": Puh-leeze! Does anyone really think customers are so dumb that we don't know what these stores offer? We have been in these stores umpteen times and we know all carry the same stuff and we know exactly where to go to find the products "inside the store." In our hot and humid weather, being able to shop inside the store is a huge advantage, not a disadvantage.
If we could actually get all the nice "upscale" shopping centers we are promised at rezoning instead of just another big box, then ugly outdoor displays wouldn't be an issue or a threat.
We can expect more and more of these big stores, and that is why we need to have control and keep control on the way they look.
Citizens should fight to keep our county beautiful by telling our Board of Commissioners we want the rules left intact with no exceptions, no matter how many of these big boys wave their big tax dollars in an attempt to coerce commissioners into changing our laws.
Businesses should realize that the almighty tax dollar isn't the only benefit citizens seek in our county. There are more important things that bring us joy, happiness and quality of life. An aesthetically pleasing environment is at the top of the list, and I am asking that all businesses spend their efforts in preserving our beauty rather than destroying it.
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