Proposed ordinance would reduce sign sizes throughout Columbia County

Proposed ordinance would reduce sign sizes throughout Columbia County
Proposed ordinance would reduce sign sizes throughout Columbia County

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF)- A proposed sign ordinance in Columbia County would require any new signs put up at businesses to be way smaller than the signs you see on places like Washington Road now.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 1,000 local business members, was against the proposal going into a commission work session Tuesday afternoon to go over the proposal.

Some chamber members say the limits on sign size are too restrictive and would harm small businesses.

The countless signs on places like Washington Road in Columbia County reflect the community’s business boon, but citizens have complained that they’re an eyesore.

Tuesday, Columbia County planning director Andrew Strickland presented a proposal for a new sign ordinance.

“Current sign code is confusing,” Strickland said. “It’s been piecemealed over the years.”

Now, the local government is trying to clean up the code and the county’s look.

Under the proposal, future signs would have to be significantly smaller than most signs are now. Members of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce say that’s asking too much.

“The sign sizes are very restrictive,” said Tammy Shepherd, CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

Shepherd says about 95 percent of current signs wouldn’t meet the new requirements. However, existing signs would be “grandfathered” in, meaning they can stay. But Sheperd says that could be a problem for new businesses.

“If you have a new business coming in and they are under the new regulations, their signs will be much smaller,” she said. “That dosen’t create the most business-friendly environment.”

She says the proposal also discriminates against small businesses.

“If you are a large box store, they’re fine. It’s just when you get to more smaller businesses, especially those 10,000 square feet or less [because] their sign square footage is very very restrictive,” Shepherd said. “And most of our community at this point in time has a lot of small businesses.”

But Shepherd and members of the commission say they’re willing to work together to find a compromise

“I’ve had a good bit of conversation about potential changes,” said Jim Cox, who is the chairman of the Columbia County Planning Commission. “We haven’t seen the final form of this ordinance yet.”

The ordinance also includes restrictions on how much of a business’ windows can be covered.

The proposal is supposed to go to the planning and zoning commission next Thursday, March 16. The public is invited to attend and give input.

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