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Planning Commission lifts moratorium on electronic signs in Columbus


Jason Browne



The Columbus Planning and Zoning Commission lifted its imposed moratorium on electronic signs Monday. 


The moratorium has been in effect for several months while the commission sought a policy to ensure signs of varying pixel pitch -- the space between each light -- were used appropriately. 


Zoning officer Kenny Weigel presented a list of proposed regulations for the signs, including automatic dimming for low light. A chart is being drafted by several local LED sign retailers with the assistance of the International Sign Association to determine the proper pixel pitch for signs based on their expected viewing distance from the road, the speed of traffic and the type of characters to be displayed on the sign. 


All of the above factors determine whether signs are easily read by passing traffic or become distractions. For instance, signs displayed to cars traveling on the Highway 82 are generally mounted higher in the air with lights spaced further apart to create larger characters than signs displayed to traffic on Highway 45. 


The planning commission adopted Weigel''s recommendations unanimously with plans to adopt the corresponding chart at its next meeting. 


In presenting his recommendations, Weigel told the commission he checked with city officials in Hattiesburg, Starkville, West Point, Tupelo and other cities regarding their sign policies. He says officials advised him to not recommend a fixed pixel pitch rate to maintain flexibility. 


Tupelo is the only city Weigel contacted which has a set pixel pitch limit on electronic message centers. 


Weigel said the city will adhere to the chart once it''s adopted to avoid subjective licensing for signs. 


The LED sign policy includes a provision mandating signs be "maintained... in good operating condition" and removed one should become "a nuisance to the general public." 


The planning commission can revisit the policy at any time. 


Weigel reported several businesses have contacted him in the past weeks asking about the sign ordinance. One business purchased a $16,000 sign, but was unable to install it due to the moratorium. 


In other business, the commission: 


· Approved zoning changes to properties at 1908 College St. and 1912 College St. from R-1 Single Family Residential to C-1 Neighborhood Commercial. 


Ben Yarber, owner of the property at 1908 College St., plans to sell his property to Sammie E. Lee, owner of the 1912 College St. property as well as the property on the corner of 19th Street South and College Street. Lee told the commission he hopes to build apartments on the three adjoining lots when the economy improves. 


· Granted a C-1 permitted use request to Jennifer Dozier for the property located at 1565 Second Ave. North. Dozier''s tenant, Curley Williams, intends to open a 24-hour daycare in the building. 


· Elected new officers for 2011, unanimously voting in Phillip Long as chairman and Kevin Stafford as vice chair.




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