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Sign ordinance changes discussed

A small group of Farragut Business Alliance members discussed Farragut’s planned changes to its special events sign ordinance — which regulates how many times per year a business can erect special signs — during a Monday morning meeting, Aug. 1.

“This cleans signs up so you know what’s there,” Town Community Development director Ruth Hawk said of the proposed changes.

The new rules, if adopted, would cut the size of special events signs by nearly half, from 32 square feet to 20 square feet. It would mandate the “Shop Farragut” logo and web address be included, taking up at least 25 percent of the sign. The business name would have to be included, as well as “byline information,” or the reason for the sign’s placement.

All of those changes are designed to reduce visual clutter.

“Some of the signs are so busy ... it’s not doing business owners any good to pay $500 for something people can’t read,” FBA founder David Purvis said.

Joanne Mielenz of Keller Williams asked why the “Shop Farragut” logo would be included, since “Shop Farragut” has historically been only a holiday event, and isn’t necessarily governed by normal special events rules.

Purvis said FBA was hoping to make the campaign into a year-round branding initiative, and wanted the logo to be recognizable.

“The idea of the logo isn’t necessarily that you read it, but that it is instantly recognizable as a logo,” Hawk agreed.

The Town classifies special events as grand openings, sidewalk sales and other site-specific events held by commercial businesses only.

“The whole point of the signs are for retail sales ... and impulse stops. You’re bringing people in to make money,” Hawk said.

The ordinance changes wouldn’t affect how many times a year businesses can erect signs — it would still be permitted four times a year, 10 days per event.

Claudia Stallings of Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace asked if offices could be included in the ordinance, since her business often had seminars and other events that weren’t sales, but still could drive people to spend money.

Hawk said she’d look at including all businesses in commercial districts in the ordinance, which would include some offices.

Hawk also included changes that would permit signs be placed 20 feet from the street edge, rather than the right-of-way, and 20 feet from any business entrance drive, a concern among all of the meeting’s attendees.

“A 20-foot setback would put a sign in our parking lot,” Stallings said.

Joe Rossin of Elliott’s Boots agreed, saying because of the land grade, placing a sign 20 feet from the road would be impossible at his business.

Hawk said nothing in the ordinance would preclude signs being placed parallel to main streets, rather than perpendicular, or on business walls, if necessary. She said she’d look into providing an option for signs to be placed at the same setback as permanent, ground-mounted signs as well.

The feedback next will go to Economic Development Commit-tee, and ultimately, any ordinance changes will have to be approved by Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.


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