There's still time to weigh in on Waynesville's sign rules

Nov 19, 2013

Action by Waynesville leaders to address the long-contested rules regarding signs within the town limits should be welcome news to many.

The present ordinance is one that has multiple facets and several “gray areas” where directives are unclear. It is also one that is enforced on a complaint-driven basis.

While the enforcement method may be practical, it is far from ideal and puts town leaders in an awkward position of sticking to the ordinance in one area because there was a complaint, and allowing another area to continue with a sign display that is out of compliance simply because no one brought it to their attention.

With the proposed changes approved by the town’s planning board, more latitude is allowed for signage. Moreover, the town’s planning director states that with simpler rules, much more attention can be focused on enforcement.

The proposed rules allow for oversized inflatable advertising messages in some areas, sandwich board signs downtown, wider signs projecting from buildings, much larger signs in commercial industrial areas, and even temporary banner signs for special events, including streamers, ribbons and balloons.

The town has held a number of meetings to come up with a reasonable compromise on signs that can help business owners get their message out while minimizing visual overkill for motorists or pedestrians who would prefer the quaint atmosphere in many areas of town to not become a victim of sign pollution.

It is a difficult balancing act, primarily because opinions differ on the matter and each opinion is subjective. While a blow-up baboon might not be one person’s idea of an attractive sign, it may well be a destination for families with young children.

The public hearing on Waynesville’s sign ordinance revisions will reopen at the Nov. 26 meeting. After that session, the board may decide to vote on the proposed changes.

That means Tuesday may represent the last time to speak out on this issue. Business owners and town residents should not let the opportunity pass without weighing in  on the substantial changes under consideration.