Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Charlie Tygard's newest version of the LED and Digital Sign bill will be heard before the Metro Planning Commission on Thursday, March 27th at 4:00 pm

Charlie Tygard's newest version of the LED and Digital Sign bill will be heard before the Metro Planning Commission on Thursday, March 27th at 4:00 pm. The bill has some minor changes, but will still greatly impact residential areas. The bill does more than that, this bill seems to allow digital billboards where they were not allowed before even though they presently exist there seemingly contrary to the present code. It is important to note that the language of this bill supports a statement made by a high level member of the Metro Planning Department to a council member to whom I was speaking after the Metro Council's Planning Committee meeting on Monday, March 17th at the courthouse. The statement made was that in all likelihood that some of these type signs already in existence were probably illegal under the present code. Language supporting this statement is found in the Planning Staff's report of this bill and reads as follows.... As written, the bill adds provisions to subsection G to require the display of an electronic sign to remain static for eight seconds and requires a transition between displays of less than two seconds. The bill would also add a prohibition for digital billboards that are less than 2,000 feet apart from one another. Because of the conflicting language in subsections G and H of the current Code, it is unclear whether digital billboards currently are permitted. Under this ordinance, they would be permitted so long as they comply with the amended provisions of subsection G. The notes continue... The Zoning Administrator has indicated that the Codes Department considers electronic signs and billboards to be illegal under the current Metro Code sign provisions because, in application, most such signs violate the provisions of subsection H in the current law, which prohibits signs with “lights or illuminations that flash, move, rotate, scintillate, blink, flicker or vary in intensity or color.” This bill proposes to permit digital signs and digital billboards like those recently erected along I-65 near 100 Oaks Mall, I-24 westbound in Hermitage, and elsewhere in Metro. According to the Zoning Administrator, all of these digital signs and billboards are on private property, excep t Metro’s convention center sign which is on public property. Those signs erected with a valid Metro permit were approved with the explicit statement that such signs were not to be digital. The proposed bill would clarify that digital billboards are allowed so long as the display message remains static or fixed for 8 seconds or more, the transition time between messages is two seconds or less, and digital billboards are spaced a minimum of 2,000 feet apart. The revision of this bill seems to create a law that would allow signs to be legal that may presently be illegal. The question is, if this bill is defeated will existing signs be allowed to stay in place in violation of the law? Why were these sign allowed to be put up if the present zoning code did not allow them? Whose job was it to approve or disapprove these signs that seem to be illegal? Ironically (or not), the Planning Commission's agenda that is normally posted on the web at least by Friday before the following Thursday meeting is not posted at this time (Saturday, 11 am). A copy provide to me by Metro Planning is attached. Will other neighbors will be kept in the dark until sometime Monday? How can democracy take place when the stakeholders are unaware of the details of the proceedings? First the original bill is placed on the consent agenda and the public is not allowed to give input, now the agenda will be released late with little time to notify citizens. Is this the best job our city can do to practice democracy? It is important that neighbors become aware of this new bill and attend this meeting. It is equally important that we insist that the leaders of our city always make the best possible effort to allow our citizens the opportunity to take part in democracy. Allowing our citizens appropriate time for notification in order to have their voices heard would be a good start. Neighbors are urged to send a letter to the commissioners as well as attend the meeting Thursday, March 27th at 4pm in order to make an impact to their decision. A vote of disapproval from the Planning Commissioners will require more votes from the Metro Council in order to approve the bill. Please send your letters to the commissioners (as attachments) and emails stating that you will be in attendance to speak regarding the bill to Jennifer.Regen@nashville.gov. She is the Planning Department's staff reviewer of the bill. She will make sure that every commissioner has a copy. The staff's recommendation is to disapprove. The Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Association will be sponsoring a community meeting regarding LED and Digital signs in Monday, March 31st at 7pm at the Hermitage Police Precinct on James Kay Lane in Hermitage. Please join us. Apathy in our society is our own worst enemy. If we are to support and protect democracy, we must be willing to take part in the process. Please take the time to pass this forward to all neighbors that you know and ask them to make their voices heard. Susan Floyd President Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Association DHNApresident@yahoo.com

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