Walking signs may be asked to take a hike
Peachtree City folks have taken notice to a new trend in signs: those carried by folks on the side of the road, hoping to drum up new business.
But with concerns about aesthetics and potential safety hazards, city officials are taking a second crack at regulating these so-called “walking signs.”
The regulations would forbid signs from being held or displayed by a person if the sign is visible from any public street. A similar measure was discussed last year but was unanimously voted down by the planning commission and was never ultimately considered by the City Council.
But with three new council members this year, there is a renewed vigor for banning or at least regulating walking signs.
The planning commission discussed Monday night how often a business should be allowed to use walking signs each year. The range went from the staff-recommended four times a year, with up to seven days each time, to as little as two times a year for two or three days at a time.
There also was some sentiment against the ordinance from planning commissioner Joe Frazar.
“We built this city with a lot of greenspace. I don’t know where a lot of shops are ... but you can’t strangle the business community,” Frazar said.
Commissioner Larry Sussberg said he recently called in a complaint about a group of women in tight T-shirts who were jumping around in the median of Ga. Highway 54 West waving signs to advertise an adult day care facility in Coweta County.
Police officers dispersed the group, Sussberg said.
“They need to stay off the cart paths too,” said commission chairman Patrick Staples, explaining a sight he recently witnessed near the 54 West cart path bridge. “I saw the gold guy almost get run over by a golf cart.”
Currently those with walking signs must be positioned outside the right of way, on privately owned property, with permission from the property owner, said Community Development Director David Rast. Also, the walking signs can’t be on city-owned or otherwise public property, Rast added.
Sussberg, a local business owner, previously had opposed such an ordinance. But after recently updating his company’s window signage he was pleased with the result of what was allowed by the city under its ordinances.
“Anybody and everybody seems to be hopping out with a sign now,” Sussberg said. “So I’m totally in favor of a ban on walking signs.”
Last year Sussberg had argued the city’s sign ordinance was too restrictive which was a big reason he attributed to the rise in businesses using walking signs: in order to get noticed, especially in areas off the major roads.
Sussberg suggested the city could look into holding a special event where local businesses can set up tables and hand out information about themselves to the public. One possibility might be doing that during one of the area farmers markets, he suggested.
The city is also working on an electronic directory of local businesses as well, the commission was told.
The proposed ordinance would not restrict store mascots from waving alongside the road. They just wouldn’t be able to hold a sign.
Resident Robert Brown said that exclusion would benefit stores with recognizable mascots such as Chick-fil-A over smaller stores who don’t have such a mascot.
The commission is expected to vote on the matter at a future date but the final say on whether the walking sign ban goes into effect is up to the City Council.
Several business owners last year told the commission that walking signs are an important part of their marketing campaign, particularly for stores that aren’t visible from the road.