Sign ordinance enforcement could end temporarily - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sign ordinance enforcement could end temporarily

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More than a year after Albany city commissioners passed a detailed new sign ordinance, the debate over it continues. Over the past few months, code enforcers stepped up a crackdown on violators.  That crackdown could end soon. Several business owners met with city leaders Wednesday afternoon to vent their frustrations.

A couple of months ago the Mr. Klean Kars lot on North Slappey Boulevard was full of balloons and streamers. Now owners complain that it looks more like a parking lot. "I have a problem when people try to tell me how to run my business," said owner Gary Willis.

The catchy items are now gone.  They're in violation of the city's sign ordinance. "Suddenly somebody is deciding to enforce these sign ordinances when the economy is crap," said one business owner.

Other business owners complain they can't advertise like they used to.  Banners have limitations and more than 10-percent signage in window space is prohibited. A Chik-fil-A representative complained about being warned they'd have to move their marked vehicles every six hours--another stipulation of the ordinance.

"It's ridiculous what we're doing here. We're running people out."

Business owners call these advertising practices that the city is now enforcing the little things they use to spur sales. "Small businessmen need to be able to put up sides at the side of the road," said Randy Lee.

Randy Lee owns Mattress Express. He was recently told by code enforcement to remove a sign from the right-of-way. "Ever since my sign was taken down, my revenue has been impacted a little bit," said Lee.

Several business owners took turns and expressed their concerns at the government center. Code enforcement and city leaders took notes. "I thought some good points were made by the various businesses and I feel that we can tweak the sign ordinance over the next six months," said Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta.

Marietta is proposing a temporary halt to sign ordinance enforcement. "The idea of putting a six-month moratorium on enforcing the sign ordinance seems to be a good idea since we see there are some flaws in it," said Marietta.

Right now many feel those ordinance flaws are coming at a cost. "Wouldn't it be nicer to see a small business open with signs in the windows than an empty, dilapidated commercial property with paint chipping off of the windows?," said Lee.

Losing more business is a price neither side wants to pay.

City commissioners will meet in a work session Tuesday to discuss the 6-month moratorium on sign ordinance enforcement.

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