Fayetteville balloon proposal nearly deflated

It will not go down in the history of the Fayetteville City Council as the Great Balloon Debate, but the discussion April 15 on the use of balloons to complement outdoor advertising in the Main Street district finally led to an approval after two motions and a tie-breaking vote.

At its essence, the amendment to the sign ordinance allows the temporary use of balloons in certain types of outdoor advertising. Main Street Director Brian Wismer said the intent of the proposal was to respond to a number of requests by Main Street merchants that they be allowed to embellish their display signs.

As it stands, the ordinance prohibits all inflatables, regardless of size. Wismer’s request, and the council’s subsequent approval, included the use of 12-inch diameter balloons for a period that ends Sept. 5.

“Main Street and Planning and Zoning staff believe that this is a creative advertising tool that the city should allow to its Main Street merchants. It will also allow us to positively respond to the numerous requests staff has received from the Main Street merchants to allow balloons atop their outdoor displays,” said Wismer, adding that the request would effectively piggy-back on the sign ordinance.

Wismer’s brief presentation led to comments by Councilman Larry Dell that six balloons might be too many, adding his concern that the tethered balloons topple the sign or contribute to an automobile accident.

Councilman Paul Oddo nonetheless made a motion to approve the use of balloons, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Dell then made a motion that the measure be approved, but with a limit of three balloons. Oddo seconded the motion. The vote was 2-2, with Dell and Oddo voting for the measure and councilmen Wilson Price and Walt White opposed. The tie was broken by Mayor Pro-Tem Al Hovey-King, who voted in favor of the proposal.

Mayor Ken Steele was not at the meeting.

The resolution allows temporary balloon displays to be affixed to sandwich boards or other permitted signage, excluding stake signs, with a half-dozen restrictions. Included are non-metallic balloons only; balloons must be no larger than 12 inches in length or circumference; maximum number of six balloons per storefront/property; and a maximum tether length of 24 inches. All displays will be required to conform to the Main Street Historic District sign ordinance aesthetic standards.

Also at the meeting, the county approved a contract for the construction of turn lanes on White Road and Banks Road at Ga. Highway 314. Low bidder Lewallen Construction, who successfully completed the Lanier Avenue/Ga. Highway 85 Streetscapes project a few years ago, was the low bidder at $149,348.75.
The project is expected to reduce congestion at the intersection, said city officials.

Funds are available for the project that is funded through impact fees. The project had originally been budgeted for $256,000.