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West Jefferson to vote on sign ordinance

A newly proposed sign ordinance could put outdated or obsolete signs
behind the figurative eight-ball if approved next month by the West Jefferson
Board of Aldermen.

Originally published: Jan. 23, 2013
Last modified: Jan. 23, 2013

Jesse Campbell

Citizens of West Jefferson will have an opportunity to voice an opinion on potential revisions to the town’s sign ordinance during the Board of Aldermen’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, Feb. 4. 

Town Manager Brantley Price said the proposed ordinance would replace the town’s current regulation.  

“This is a total revision,” said Price. 

Aldermen will vote on the ordinance immediately following the public hearing, which will start at 6 p.m. at West Jefferson Town Hall. 

The new ordinance covers a variety of signage including signs for awnings, billboards, directions to places, windows, festivals, gasoline pumps, historic locations, real estate, holiday decorations, as well public service signs and others. 

The ordinance also contains a list of proposed exempt signage, including church signs that are less than 60 feet and temporary for rent/sale signs for each frontage of street. 

Government signs, no trespassing signs, welcome signs approved by the planning board, private traffic directional signs, trade names and graphics, and political signs are also exempt from the ordinance. 

Examples of prohibited signs include the following:

A sign that imitates official highway signs A sign that obscures a sign displayed by a public authority A sign that displays flashing, blinking, or intermittent lights or lights of changing intensity and neon lights.  Signs on vehicles, wheels, trailers, or truck beds Banners, flags, streamers, pennants, etc. are prohibited. Official government flags are permitted.  A sign that has moving parts A sign that obstructs the driver vision of any vehicle entering the roadway from any street, driveway, or parking lot.  Private signs are prohibited on public utility poles, telephone poles, and trees.  Three-dimensional structures of chicken buckets, human figures or tin cans.  Signs, which contain statements, words, or pictures of obscene, indecent or immoral characters such as will offend public morals or decency are prohibited. 

“With exception of those signs specifically exempt in the regulations section, no sign shall be erected without a sign permit issued by the town. 

An application for a sign permit will be submitted on a form obtained from the zoning enforcement officer,” the ordinance reads. 

According to the draft, the purpose of the new sign ordinance is to provide uniform sign standards that promote the culture, history and beauty of the town.

The sign regulations also state that uniform standards will allow businesses to effectively identify its location to customers, as well as the goods and services it provides. 

Additionally, the regulations will look to balance the individual interest of a business with the town’s interest of promoting the economic vitality of the town. 

In preparation for drafting the new ordinance, town attorney David Paletta prepared a slideshow of photographs of all existing signs in the town’s jurisdiction to give aldermen an idea of how they wanted to write revisions, said Price. 

Aldermen held two public workshops were they discussed the new ordinance.

Paletta provided aldermen with examples of what other towns, including Boone, have done in regard to regulating signs.

After writing the ordinance, the town forwarded the document to the county’s planning board for approval.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.