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Window signage to remain

Council OKs first ordinance reading; second hearing is Monday

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POSTED: April 21, 2013 2:30 p.m.

Richmond Hill officials are continuing efforts to make revisions to the proposed changes in the city’s sign ordinance after hearing concerns of residents and have removed limits on window signage to the proposed regulations.
A public hearing regarding the changes was held April 8 in City Hall, where residents brought up issues with window signage, quill flags and more. A second public hearing is at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, and the council is expected to take action on the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting on May 7.
It was noted during the council’s first reading of the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday, that limiting window signage had been removed from the document.
Russ Carpenter, council and sign ordinance committee member, said signs used in business windows was a primary concern expressed during the first public hearing.
“That was one of the main concerns, and that’s understandable — the gas stations around Richmond Hill, the fast food places in Richmond Hill, they all have many window signs and that’s a very popular way to market,” Carpenter said Thursday.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Carpenter told the council the sign committee took all comments from the April 8 public hearing into consideration, and even met with some business owners individually to address further concerns. The committee unanimously agreed that window signage should not be limited.
Quill flags was another concern that came up during the first hearing. A quill flag is like a banner, similar to the sign used for the Richmond Hill Farmer’s Market once a week at the corner of Cedar Street and Ford Avenue.
Michelle Engelhart, co-owner of Espress Hill Coffee Shop in Sawmill Plaza, said she would like to use quill flags for her business, but the proposed ordinance only allows them to be flown seven days per month with a permit.
“That kind of defeats the purpose of a quill flag — it’s to attract customers,” she said Thursday. “I think as long as it’s in nice shape, flown during your business hours and taken down, it shouldn’t be a problem. They fly them in Hilton Head.”
She also questioned the logistics of how the city would enforce or keep track of how often a business displays a quill flag or something similar each month and said she believes the ordinance should be fair across the board, meaning all businesses should be treated equally.
“We just want to see it fair,” she said of the proposed ordinance. “As a business — and we’ve talked to many other business owners — we feel we have the right to attract customers in an aesthetically pleasing way,” she said. “None of us want to see 1,000-yard signs, but we want to be able to have a chance.”
Engelhart said she plans to attend the public hearing Monday.
According to unofficial minutes from the first public hearing, other local business owners expressed concerns about temporary signage and only allowing monument-type signs instead of LED signs. Like Engelhart, others voiced concerns about the logistics of enforcing parts of the ordinance.
Carpenter said he expects a good turnout for the second public hearing on Monday.
“I’m expecting there will be more comments, and we’ll do the same thing we did last time, which was look at each individual issue and we may change things according to that,” he said. “In the end, the City Council will be voting on this.”

Read more in the April 20 edition of the News.

 

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