DAVIDSON – Town commissioners continued discussions regarding the sign ordinance March 25 after receiving complaints.
“This has been revised the most out of any chapter since we revised all the ordinances in 2001,” Planning Manager Ben McCrary said of the sign ordinance.
Mayor John Woods asked the board to consider looking at the rules for temporary signs, having been approached by churches wanting to put up signs about events. McCrary said the problem lies with the impending “sign creep.”
“If one person puts up a sign, then five others put out a sign there,” he said. “Then there are a number of banners and sidewalk signs all over the place, so it’s not as impactful anymore.”
One of the biggest examples of that is at the college, staff said to the agreement of commissioners.
“We want to keep the town from looking cluttered and creeped,” Woods said, acknowledging the dilemma. “But there are special needs that we need to be aware of. I’m sympathetic to the college and church needs. Maybe nonprofits need a temporary notification of things. It’s a struggle to be able to allow them to communicate effectively and not clutter the town.”
The board plans to gather church and nonprofit representatives to discuss the issue.
Permanent signs also came up for possible tweaks.
Currently, businesses are allowed one primary sign and two secondary signs. The town has several prohibited signs, including internal illumination, billboards, ground-mounted, flashing, banners and those at neighborhood entrances.
Businesses have sought conditional-use approval several times for ground-mounted signs, especially on N.C. 73, which Woods called “a different animal altogether.”
When asked why they were banned in the first place Assistant Town Manager Dawn Blobaum said, ”They look too suburban. We don’t like to think of the town as suburban, but small urban.”
Both commissioners and the planning board will continue discussions.
Sign rules and lack of downtown parking came up as weakness in the results of a business retention survey, presented by Davidson Community and Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming. But overall, results were favorable.
The survey garnered 68 responses out of 170 businesses, compared to 72 in 2013. This year’s represented more from retailers than before. Because of that, Fleming said, more businesses characterized their sales during the last three years as decreasing, but 68 percent said it had improved.
Fleming noted that more than 80 percent seek customer base expansion, compared to looking for a boost in sales, which was the priority in 2013. Businesses wanting to expand employment also slightly dropped. At least 90 percent said they have no plans to relocate and 98 percent said they don’t regret opening in Davidson.
“I think it’s good news they want to stay here and want to grow their businesses,” Fleming said.