Following a public hearing at its most recent meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners tabled a decision on proposed changes to county law on outdoor advertising signs.
Director of Planning and Zoning Jeff Watkins explained that these potential changes involved adding a new section to the sign law to cover signs that have had to be relocated or rebuilt due to issues such as road widening projects. He explained what was being put forth had been modeled after a similar state law and was not an overly complex set of changes.
“Basically it says that any sign that’s going to be relocated is obligated to meet the current sign ordinance, and then the last section talks about signs that are exempt, prohibited, legal or erected without a permit are not eligible for relocation, adjustment or compensation,” Watkins said.
During the public hearing, the commissioners heard from Jay Wallace, who explained he owns and operates a company specializing in outdoor signs and billboards.
“We specialize in small, junior-size signs that are in compliance with county regulations, they’re all 120 square feet in size, and we have currently about 20 signs in place on State Route 20 east of Canton, and of those 20, I think 19 are being affected by the road widening,” Wallace said.
As a result of this, Wallace said he contacted the county to understand the county’s stance on this matter, including how the affected signs should be rebuilt. Overall, Wallace said he was not opposed to the changes, but was primarily wanting to ensure the amendments were clear and their enforcement was handled in a consistent and uniform manner.
Commission Chairman Harry Johnston said he understood the points Wallace was making, while Commissioner Steve West asked Watkins if it might be feasible to put a clause into the amendments that would allow signs that are being removed by the Georgia Department of Transportation to be grandfathered in, giving them the opportunity to be rebuilt as they currently are, instead of having to upgrade the signs to meet the current law by rebuilding them in a more monument style. Watkins responded that the county could look into that and get back with the commissioners, although he did admit this could possibly open the door for pylon-style signs.
“If we open the door, we have to be careful, I would just say,” he said.
“I think we have an opportunity to see an upgrade in the signs along roads that are improved. There’s a cost with that though,” Johnston said.
Wanting to have additional information and research at their disposal before making an ultimate decision on the matter, as well as working more on all of the language involved, West submitted a motion to table the topic until the second meeting in January. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Benny Carter and approved in a unanimous vote of the board.