Task Force takes on sign ordinance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Task Force takes on sign ordinance

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January 8, 2008

Albany - Work is underway by a task force created to look at Albany's sign ordinance. Representatives from major sign company, Lamar were present, but so were folks who this will have the biggest impact on, business owners.

If you're driving down Slappey, looking for Mr. Klean Kars, it's hard to miss.  This bright flashing sign should get your attention. A sign that's not really supposed to be here.

"It does flash and it is illegal according to the city and I do know that," said owner Gary Willis.  He also knows he spent a lot of money on the sign and wants a say in how the sign ordinance will affect businesses like his. "They had people with the billboards," he said. "They had people with the sign companies, but nobody representing the businessman."

Until he stood up. Willis says he'll follow the rules, but wants to give his input. He thinks signs like this should be allowed to change the message on them every 10 seconds, and he's not alone.

That's what folks from the big companies, like Lamar want, too. "We feel the ad should change every 10 seconds," said James Locke. "That's what the state of Georgia has adopted on state controlled grounds and increasing it to a minute or anything longer than 10 seconds would seriously hurt our advertisers."

Actually, that's what Lamar is already doing. They were permitted to erect signs like this, and the ads change 6 times a minute. The ordinance calls that animation, but James Locke, VP and General Manager for Lamar, says the debate is in the definition. "We feel the signs we have up now are within the current ordinance. There's no animation, there's no flashing, no movement. It's static ad changes that change every 10 seconds."

The task force will meet again next week, hopefully with representation from business owners like Willis. Their suggestions will be compiled and should be presented to the city commission before they make any final decision on the ordinance.

The task force also believes the city needs to define the difference between an off-site sign like a billboard and an on site sign used for retailers.  

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