City Committee Approves Special Signs for Businesses

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Raleigh businesses could soon be allowed signs for special events if the City Council gives the final go ahead to a resolution approved by a committee this week.

By city law, businesses can only post temporary or event signs twice in the lifetime of their business and must obtain a permit to do so. Assistant City Manager Daniel Howe said the law is intended for grand opening and closing events.

Councilors formed a task force to examine the issue after receiving complaints from a local costume shop owner.

The task force suggests:

  • Special event signs be allowed for temporary businesses set up on a business owner’s lot, such as pumpkin sales and fireworks sales. Such signs would be permitted for 20 days.
  • That permanent businesses be allowed one special event sign permit each year good for 20 days and three weekend event permits annually, each valid for three days.
  • Revise the “sandwich board” rules to be allowed within five feet of a business 365 days per year.
  • Issue the sign guidelines in a comprehensive way to all business owners each year as they renew their licenses.
  • Allow business owners who plan signs for the entire year to apply for one $76 permit for all signs instead of obtaining the permit for each event.

The Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved the task force’s proposal – with the caveat that some possibly unconstitutional language in the draft will be changed by the City Attorney’s office before the full council considers the change.

Louie Bowen, owner of Hughie and Louie’s costume shop on Glenwood Avenue, wore a queen’s robe and crown to the meeting, her second appearance before the group in costume.

She thanked councilors for the changes, but, holding up a set of fake shackles, asked them to “unshackle” the limits on sign sizes – now limited to 64 square feet, or about the size of two pieces of plywood.

She said when a business owner takes the time to advertise, she needs to get her money’s worth.

“What’s visual clutter to some people is huge information to others,” she said.

Councilors did not discuss the sign sizes.

Committee Considers Optional Application for Boards and Commissions
Raleigh residents interested in serving on the city’s various boards and commissions may soon have another way to volunteer: an application.

The committee discussed options Tuesday for changing the city’s nomination process. Councilors nominate and vote on the members appointed to city boards. Right now, councilors typically ask around for volunteers. Those who are interested must contact a council member.

City Clerk Gail Smith said she receives about two calls each week from residents asking how to serve. Right now, she tells them to send emails to councilors.

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said that might be intimidating to some people, and perhaps not the best way to make sure qualified and interested residents are found when vacancies arise. Sometimes, it’s difficult to fill vacancies on boards, and it would be nice to have a pool of candidates, she said.

“You always wonder, ‘Is there somebody out there who is really qualified that we’re missing?'” she said.

Smith presented the processes used by other cities, most of which offer applications for people, she said. Some cities require applications, while some just offer them as an option. The applications vary from a few basic questions to very detailed, practically calling for a background check.

McCormick said councilors now often nominate and vote on candidates for boards during the same meeting, choosing not to follow the city policy. He said by following policy, councilors would have extra time to find more candidates for nomination.

Smith agreed to develop a simple application as an option for people to fill out and bring it back to the committee for review.

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