Columbia County Chamber issues statement on proposed sign ordinance

March 1, 2017|

The following statement was released to Buzz on Biz just prior to releasing our newsletter. We will have more on the proposed ordinance leading up to the March 16 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced today it will oppose the county’s newly proposed sign ordinance. The proposed ordinance, which creates an unfavorable business climate for current and new businesses, will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 16, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. Members are encouraged to review the proposed ordinance and attend.

As part of the Chamber’s advocacy focus,the Chamber’s Government Affairs sign sub-committee along with Chamber officials have been reviewing and making recommendations to the County Planning Department since August 2016. Although the Chamber appreciates the opportunity to help develop a new ordinance, several major concerns were unresolved regarding adequate signage on buildings, entrances and windows.

For strip shopping centers, the code is particularly unfair to tenants with fewer than 10,000 square feet, limiting their building sign to less than ten percent of the total square footage.

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The proposed ordinance would limit sign placement and affect the majority of Columbia County businesses.

Additionally, window signs and perforated vinyl window graphics are limited to 30 percent of the window surface, restricting local businesses from utilizing posters to introduce new products and promotional discounted items.

Even though current business owners will be able to keep existing signage, any future signage changes must meet the new code. At last count, at least 40 current businesses’ signs would not be in compliance with the ordinance, creating an unequal playing field for potential new Columbia County businesses.

Variance requests will cost business owners a $650 application fee, plus the cost of time and resources to complete the paperwork package and the delay of up to 3 months to get the process through the Planning and Zoning Department.

The Chamber highly encourages local businesses to review the proposed sign ordinance and attend the March 16, 2017 Planning Meeting at the Columbia County Government Center, Building A at 6:00 p.m. When the ordinance moves on from Planning and Zoning, it will have additional readings at the next two County Board of Commissioners meetings.

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