Sign ordinance updated for safety

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

After months of revision, the updated Troup County sign ordinance passed on Tuesday morning after some discussion regarding window coverage by signs.

Under the updated ordinance, 50 percent of the total window space on a building, including glass doors, may contain signage. Officials noted that most surrounding counties only allow 20 to 30 percent window coverage, so Troup County’s sign ordinance will still be significantly more lenient than surrounding counties, as well as proposed city ordinances within the county.

Tuesday’s discussion focused on the kind of window signage allowed and the percentage of a window that could be covered by signage. Some parts of the updated ordinance focused on aesthetic concerns like clutter, but the window coverage regulations attempted to balance the board of commissioners’ primary concerns of public safety and encouraging business.

“The concern is that if something was going on in some of these stores where it is nearly completely blinded (from outside view), and the law officials have to walk into these places, they can’t even see going in here,” Commissioner Morris Jones said. “You don’t know what you are opening that door going into.”

The sheriff’s department was consulted on signage that would block view of businesses from the outside and agreed that it is safer for law enforcement to be able to see into buildings during emergency situations.

“It will make it easier on us to be able to see inside and make sure that everything is ok in the building or business when we are making our passes to check on it, so that will certainly help us out,” Sgt. Stewart Smith said.

Sheriff James Woodruff noted that he likes for his officers to be able to make eye contact with cashiers to confirm their safety when driving by locations like gas stations to confirm that nothing is wrong inside the business.

Businesses with perforated signs will be allowed to grandfather their signs in, due to the commission’s desire to avoid having a negative impact on small businesses who installed the window coverings prior to the ordinance update.

For the purpose of the ordinance they will be regarded as permanent signs and will be subject to the same rules regarding updates as other permanent signs, like pole signs and monument signs, which will only need to move to the new regulations during an update.

“About 95 percent (of businesses) are compliant (with the new guidelines),” Senior Building Official Jay Anderson said. “It is only a small percentage that are not compliant.”

It was also noted that most of the locations within the county that are not compliant under the updated sign ordinance would only have to remove temporary signage from windows in order to achieve the desired visibility.

“It would not take much for any of these (businesses) to become compliant,” County Planner Tracie Hadaway confirmed.

Signage and perforated window coverings were also discussed as a means of controlling utility costs, but ultimately everything came back to safety.