I was quite surprised to learn that the Commerce City Council has refused to turn down Walgreens’ request for a variance in the sign ordinance.
Approximately nine years ago I opened a local insurance agency on State Street in Commerce. The size of my requested signage on the front of the building was well within the city’s sign ordinance. The problem, however, was that it was an “internally lit” sign and I was told that the city’s sign ordinance does not allow “internally lit” signs, neon signs, etc. in the “Historic District” of the city. “No problem,” I said. “We’ll just take out the internal bulbs to comply.” And that’s exactly what we did.
I was also told that the “Historic District” of the city comprised an area from the State Farm Insurance office at 2257 North Broad Street to the City Safety Complex at 1491 South Elm Street. It was further explained to me that the purpose of the sign ordinance was to protect the historical integrity of our city.
Imagine how surprised I was several years ago to learn that a drug store at 2041 North Elm Street was allowed an “internally lit” sign in an area of the city that was “supposedly” the historic district.
I said at that time that we must enforce the city’s sign ordinance if we were going to protect the integrity of the “Historic District.”
Furthermore, imagine my dismay in later years when a local bakery at 11 Central Avenue was allowed to install an “internally lit” sign. To date this sign is illuminated internally night after night after night.
And, finally, please understand my frustration when several businesses within the so-called “Historic District” have been allowed to install neon signage, which I was told was prohibited by the city’s sign ordinance.
I work two days per week in the Johns Island, SC; Pawleys Island, SC; and Mt. Pleasant, SC, areas. All three areas are in close proximity to Charleston, SC. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that these areas obviously have very, very strict signage ordinances. In fact, most signage is no higher than six feet (including, but certainly not limited to Walgreens). And in some areas the “LED” signs aren’t allowed at all. Businesses simply have to change the message signs manually.
Certainly Commerce cannot begin to compare to the Charleston area. I’m not saying that by any means at all. I just feel that if we have city ordinances, they need to be enforced.
Bottom line: Stand firm. Don’t waver. And always, always, always cast your vote for what you know in your heart is the right thing to do. And don’t approve any signage variances, regardless of the size of the business. The decisions you make today may have lasting impacts for generations to come.
May God bless each of you and give you the wisdom to fully represent our citizens.