The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and its Government Affairs Committee assembled proposed changes to our current sign ordinance "following many complaints" by its members. Apparently our current sign ordinance has "caused problems with the conduct of businesses."
One example of a change is "allowing lighted signs within 100 feet of a single-family dwelling if the dwelling is on a road which is primarily commercial in function." The current ordinance does not allow a lighted sign within 100 feet of a single-family dwelling.
Another example is "wall signs for all sign districts are set at 20 percent of the area above business doors." Current law (changed for good reason three years ago) limits the size to between 3 percent and 12 percent.
The Evans Town Center ordinance allows only very small signs. The proposed change is to replace the Evans Town Center law with current Community Sign District rules to allow a sign of 100 square feet. Well, folks, so much for trying to keep our town center a place of higher standards and more beautiful than the Martinez area.
The current ordinance limits the width, height and number of signs allowed and should not be changed. What happened to our vision to lessen the ugliness of commercial businesses and make our county more aesthetically pleasing? I thought our commissioners, businesses and communities were committed to higher standards and vowed to not repeat the past mistakes resulting from lax, negligent and careless sign ordinances. A fine example of loose and unmindful sign ordinances is the jumbled areas riddled with too many inappropriate signs in the Martinez commercial areas and too many sections of Washington Road.
Changing some of the sign ordinances will surely result in undoing all past efforts made to make Columbia County a beautiful place. Remember how hard we worked on the nodal overlays to assure higher standards for "the look" of our communities? How quickly the Chamber has forgotten. The Chamber and their members should have a great desire and take a stand to strengthen ordinances to limit the ugliness of sprawl rather than embark on a campaign to lessen standards and perpetuate the past mistakes of negligent ordinances.
Surely our citizens can find the businesses of their choice without having to depend on big, ugly signs stretching skyward or jumbling up the roadside.
...Here's a good idea: Spend your big sign money on advertising in our local paper. If we are interested in what your business has to offer, we can enter your address in our GPS and find your business much easier than searching through a jungle of big, old ugly signs.
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