DAVIDSON – “Why would it be bad if a sign was big?” a young Boy Scout innocently asked during a public hearing at the Jan. 14 Davidson commissioners meeting.

To a couple of residents attending, size does matter when talking about Carolinas HealthCare System’s request to change to a conditional planning area in order to get a bigger sign than allowed by town rules.

The sign in question is off N.C. 73 for the Behavioral Health Campus, a 60-bed center to serve people with mental health disorders and outpatient behavioral health services. Rather than have the allowed 16-square-foot sign on a signal post, the hospital is requesting a 24-square-foot sign with stone sides in a “monument” style  to be seen better. A temporary mockup already has been installed.

Planning Manager Ben McCrary said the ordinance was put in place for a more pedestrian environment, but because the road has more traffic at faster speeds, visibility may be limited unless it is enlarged. Another consideration is that the sign is 50 feet away from the road so as not to impede on the right-of-way when N.C. 73 is expanded; however, moving the sign back from the road when that happens is not planned.

One resident, who didn’t identify himself, wanted to know why, if the campus is part of the hospital, would it not have a hospital sign.

“This garbles the whole thing of a hospital,” he said, adding that with more signs going up throughout the area, the road was becoming an eyesore.

Resident and former planning board member Martha Jenkins agreed the larger sign would disturb the rural setting and didn’t want to take away from the town ordinances. She suggested putting up caution signs for people to slow down instead. 

The board is slated to vote on the issue next meeting after it goes to the planning board. Commissioner Brian Jenest has said he will recuse himself as the hospital is his client.

The board also unanimously agreed Jan. 14 to annex the property since it is already receiving town services.