Signs, signs, everywhere are signs

  • Friday, May 17, 2013

As work progresses along Coleman Boulevard, so has the outreach of local business owners to attract clientele. Sandwich board signs have sprung up along sidewalks and right-of-way easements, directing potential customers to off-the-beaten path businesses or advertising daily specials.

Sandwich boards are only permitted within the urban corridor, but much of what you currently see is the matter of an enforcement issue and already not permitted. Sandwich boards are allowed in all streets and permitted when the urban corridor has been redeveloped to urban corridor standards such as at Juanita Greenberg’s.

And more signs may be coming. But if approved, these signs would appear within a shopping center.

The request was made by the property owner of Patriots Plaza who has been working with Dan Sweeney with Stumphouse to design interior signage within the shopping center.

The request for more signage within designated areas of the parking lot to the Planning Committee last week, brought out extensive discussion. This type of signage is currently not allowed, but the tenants of Patriots Plaza alledge that it’s hard for customers to find them or even know their businesses exist because of the shopping center’s layout.

There are similar options around town, such as at town hall and Seaside Farms and the concept is in line with what is approved within office centers.

Council members Linda Page and John Burn agreed this is a bigger issue than just in shopping centers.

Committee member Elton Carrier thinks this is a terrific idea “and will allow us to get rid of sandwich boards, which are prolific and ugly and have taken over our town,” he said.

“Internal signage would relieve the burden of non-conforming signage we have been seeing lately,” Page said.

Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, chairman of the Planning Commission said interior signage will help facilitate moving people to their destination within a shopping center.

With this discussion came the thought that council should look at amending the current sign ordinance as a whole.

According to Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura, there have been five or more sign ordinance amendments in the last five years alone. He suggested forming a citizens’ advisory committee to take a harder look at the sign regulations in place and what the needs to the business owners are.

“This is a big issue and hard to put just on staff,” Page agreed.

She would like to see town officials move forward with a completely new ordinance. “We’ve made concessions and allowances because of the economy and it’s time to review what’s best for businesses and the community and be consistent with that goal rather than looking at everything individually,” she added.

Mayor Billy Swails spoke from the audience. He referenced the amount of time already spent reviewing the sign ordinance.

“The collective agreement was that after seeing the signs in Greenville, everyone agreed that they liked them. We all like this concept, no question about it,” he said. We don’t need to form a committee to do something we already know we want to do.”

Sweeney of Stumphouse explained that the internal directional signs would help since the anchors there - Staples and Whole Foods - take up the street signage that is allowed.”

Changes can not be done on a case by case basis, according to DeMoura. “It must be council’s desire to amend the ordinance and must be memorialized in an ordinance,” said DeMoura.

There will be continued discussion in the coming months, the committee decided.

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