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Special Events signage rules draw criticism

A change to Farragut’s special events sign permit — which allows businesses to erect temporary signs — continued to cause controversy among Farragut Municipal Planning Commission members Thursday, Nov. 17.

Ron Rochelle, an FMPC member, took a step down from the dais in Farragut’s boardroom Thursday night to speak as a citizen from a podium in the audience.

Rochelle, who works for a sign company, expressed his displeasure that Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen switched the allowed sign material from what FMPC recommended to them.

“We didn’t make an improvement,” Rochelle said of the material switch.

FMPC originally recommended requiring all signs be made of 10-ounce hemmed scrim vinyl.

The Board, after a plea from Farragut Business Alliance president David Purvis, changed the material to corrugated plastic.

“I’m in the sign business. I pride myself on what I do. I have some experience. I do know my product,” Rochelle said.

The scrim vinyl was a superior product. It would be easier to store. It would last longer and be less likely to suffer wind damage, he said.

But more importantly, scrim vinyl signs look nicer, he added.

“I was tired of looking at the disorder of the signs in this community. Farragut was not a pretty town when those signs went up,” he said.

Community development director Ruth Hawk said Farragut’s staff actually agreed with Purvis.

Vinyl signs could be classified as “banner signs,” something Farragut has never allowed. Corrugated plastic signs would not blow in the wind as banner signs could, she said.

Beyond that, expressing displeasure at an FMPC meeting was out of order — FMPC already sent their recommendations to the Board, and the Board had the final say, according to Hawk..

Changing the material of the sign wasn’t enough to send the entire ordinance amendment back to FMPC for another recommendation, she added.

Hawk recommended Rochelle either make his case known to the Board or to Farragut Business Alliance.

“The Farragut Business Alliance should participate in the discussions,” she said.

Alderman Ron Honken agreed.

“The Farragut Business Alliance was really driving this change,” Honken said.

“They ... really didn’t want this banner material. My vote was [cast so] that we could finish the job we started ... and meet the needs and requests of the FBA,” he said.

Mayor Ralph McGill said Farragut’s next Board meeting would be held Dec. 8 — the last Board meeting of the year. He recommended Rochelle continue the discussion at that meeting, or speak to Farragut Business Alliance representatives in the meantime.

“I want to make Farragut better than it could be,” Rochelle said. “I think everybody is entitled to their opinion and this is mine.”


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