The Board of Commissioners decided to defer a vote on the proposed sign ordinance in order to give the public a chance to enter public comments on the matter before the vote.
The commissioners initially moved up the public comments period, normally held at the end, to earlier in the meeting just in order to hear any feedback on the sign ordinance.
However, County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge expressed concern since matters up for public hearing are not allowed to be commented on during public comments at the BOC meetings. She suggested the commissioners could hold another meeting, advertised ahead of time, where the public could comment on the proposed ordinance.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt said he was interested in hearing the comments and pointed out people in the audience had taken time off their works schedules to attend the meeting. “They don’t have the liberty of coming back and forth… They’re here now.”
But all three commissioners unanimously voted to defer the sign ordinance propsoal to the next meeting in two weeks.
The sign ordinance changes have been in the works at least since March and have nearly come up for vote several times before being deferred for further revision or other reasons.
Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce liaison David Shipp, who has been spearheading the Chamber’s review of the sign ordinance, said, “I'm thankful that they deferred it. That's what we wanted, to work on it a little bit more. They did make a number of changes in the ordinance that we put in, of our suggestions.”
Some of the Chamber’s remaining concerns include the definition of “deteriorating” signs or signs “in need of repair.”
“When the sign ordinance is put into place, non-conforming signs that are grandfathered in will have to be replaced when they do deteriorate or they need repair or there's something that happens to them. That will be a cost to that business, so we want specifics on exactly what those words mean so that a business owner will know,” said Shipp.
“There's also a little concern over the banners, as temporary signs, whether they're able to be put out. As it's worded right now, they're only able to be put on a building, not placed on freestanding poles in front of a building.”
Shipp, a business owner with locations in a city overlay district on West Avenue, in the county at Honey Creek, and in the Salem Overlay District on Salem Road, said he is not able to have a uniform look at his three locations because of all the different sign ordinance requirements.
He said he understood there are aesthetic goals the ordinances have in mind. But he added, “The whole purpose of signage for businesses is to get people to buy stuff at their place. That increases the number of jobs in the community.
“We can be the cutest town in the world, but if nobody's buying anything, it doesn't help.”