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Finding balance between beauty and business
County mulls relaxing sign ordinance

CONYERS - Citing the troubling economic conditions for local businesses, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is looking at the county's sign ordinances to consider loosening restrictions for large banners.

The topic was broached by Rockdale County Commissioner Jason Hill, who said he was contacted by Casey Black of Black Ink Printing. Hill said he was concerned that businesses are finding it difficult to attract more customers with the county sign laws as they are currently written.

Currently, the county ordinances allow a business to display temporary signs, or banners, two times a year for 14 days at a time. Hill and the other commissioners asked Legal Affairs Director Holly Bowie to research the matter and provide options for the board to consider.

Hill and Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said they would consider relaxing the county code to allow businesses to display banners for as long as 30 days twice a year, but wanted to wait until Bowie's information is presented before making a decision.

"It's something that we could try, and after a year if we didn't like it, we could change it," Hill said.

Community beautification was the primary concern of commissioners as they discussed relaxing regulations for temporary signs. Too many large signs in an area could be unsightly, they said. Business owners argue that the current laws restrict their ability to attract customers to special sales or services.

"We want to keep the community looking nice, but at the same time we don't want to be accused of being unfriendly to businesses," Hill said.

Kim Young of Sign-A-Rama said she thinks a change in the county code would help business. Part of her company's service is to file, or pull, permits for clients from the city of Conyers and Rockdale County to display banners.

Part of her work involved keeping track of how long a banner has been on display, taking it down when the first permit expires, then putting it back up to stay in compliance. She said it's a difficult process and involves determing which businesses are in the county as opposed to those in the city.

The city of Conyers allows for banner signs to be displayed for 60 days at a time. Also, the city allows banners up to 100 square feet while the county's maximum is 24 square feet.

Young said she understands there's give and take on both sides - businesses want to advertise, while the local government wants to regulate signs. However, she thinks there can be a better way of regulating them.

"It's just crazy keeping up with who's allowed to have what on their signs," she said. "I'm in the sign business, but don't think I want banners all over the place. I want people to be responsible and not have big signs everywhere all the time."

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.