Tifton Gazette

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March 22, 2014

City receives DNR recommendations on signs

TIFTON — Now that revisions have been made to the city of Tifton’s sign regulations and have been reviewed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the final draft will be going before the Planning and Zoning Commission.

At Thursday’s City Council workshop, city attorney Rob Wilmot went over the proposed changes to the Historic District Design Guidelines/signage. He said he sent DNR a proposed revision to the Tifton Historic Preservation Commission Manual. Based upon what he sent, they sent back a letter concerning their comments and suggestions regarding the draft. He said some of the requested changes were stylistic, which he changed and reorganized some of the paragraphs. He said the two main areas of conflict were regarding temporary signage and Electronic Graphic Display (EGD) signs.

Wilmot provided the council with the revised draft on signage where DNR made suggestions in red, followed by his comments regarding those changes. DNR suggested that banners should be permitted on a temporary basis and that A-frame signs include instructions regarding placement of signs on sidewalks and placement during and after business hours. However, Wilmot told the council that DNR’s suggestions regarding temporary signs are not applicable, because the city isn’t looking to have signs on a temporary basis.

He explained that the city has tried to move away from temporary signage due to difficulty in regulating and requiring removal when the condition of the sign has deteriorated. He said as far as placement, they follow ADA guidelines so as not to allow blocking free flow of pedestrian traffic on sidewalks (according to Bert Crowe, director of the environmental management department).

Also, DNR has advised against allowing EGD signs in the Historic District. If allowed, they suggested that these type of signs should be only allowed under “special circumstances.” DNR has also recommended case size/operational requirements.

Wilmot said it appeared that DNR wanted to maintain the first paragraph of the illumination portion of the manual, which states that only indirect lighting is appropriate for illuminating signage. Back-lit or internally-lit signs are not appropriate. Neon signs may be approved for early to mid-20th century commercial buildings and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis (neon signs were first introduced in America in 1923).

However, Wilmot said the proposal is that although indirect lighting is the preferred means of illumination in the Historic District, other types of illumination can be considered under certain circumstances.

He said once the final draft of the sign regulations has been reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission, it will be taken before the council for a vote.

Councilman Wes Ehlers was curious about if the city allowed EGD signs against DNR’s recommendation, would there be any penalty or consequences for doing that. He questioned if there would be a possibility of them being decertified. He told Wilmot it would be beneficial for them to know before voting.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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