Elizabethton business owners not happy with proposed changes to city’s sign regulations


Elizabethton, TN (WJHL)- Business owners in Elizabethton are at odds with the city over proposed changes to the city’s sign regulations.

The current law will not allow it, but some business owners want to be able to use four square feet yard signs, also known as snipe signs, to help attract customers. Under the proposed new law, they will be allowed in residential areas as long as they meet certain criteria, but not in business districts.

Primp N Tease Hair & Nail Salon Owner Tiffany Gold uses snipe signs because her salon sits behind a retaining wall, but recently found out they are not allowed. “They say walk-ins welcome or whatever specials we have going on and that will bring new clients in,” Gold said. Now, she wants the new, proposed law to allow snipe signs in business districts, and possibly in the public right-of-way. “The city should be open to being more business friendly, supporting their local, small businesses.”

“When businesses begin putting those temporary signs in the right-of-way there is a certain liability that of course, we hold,” said Jon Hartman, Elizabethton’s director of planning and economic development, “as a city if… a business were to block a line of sight issue or… somebody was injured in a car accident because they couldn’t see over a sign that was in a public right-of-way.” Hartman went on to say, the signs could present a problem when crews are trying to mow the right-of-way and could become an eyesore if they deteriorate and business owners do not remove them

Gold also wants the city to evaluate another potential change to the sign laws, which would impact how businesses can use temporary signs, to advertise things like sales. Gold said, “With the current signed ordinance with the banners you’re allowed to have them out for 305 days out of 365.” The new law would only allow temporary signs to be used up to twice a year for no more than 90 days.

Hartman said, “The point of us making these regulations is not to at all hinder a business. You know, we want to make a town that is attractive, that people want to come to, that people want to do business in.”

The planning commission is re-evaluating the revised sign regulations to see if the recent concerns can be addressed. They will be looking at two main things, whether to allow off-premise signs for businesses and whether to allow them in the right-of-way.

Hartman said, “We’ve been working on this for over a year, had multiple public input sessions, public comment periods. We want to get a signed regulation in place that may not give the business everything they want, but may not give the planning commission everything they want as well. You know, we’re looking for that compromise, that middle ground.”

Hartman said the commission hopes to have the new, proposed sign ordinance back to city council in January.

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