Task Force to Review Sign Ordinance

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Small business owners and supporters are calling on City Councilors to do a comprehensive review and overhaul of the city’s sign ordinance, following a proposed law change that would force business owners to remove some signs posted on windows.

An interior sign just off Glenwood Avenue.

Staff / Raleigh Public Record

An interior sign just off Glenwood Avenue.

If approved, the new law would extend city rules about signs to include those posted on the inside of windows, not just the exterior, forcing many owners to change window signs to conform.

A November staff analysis of Glenwood South showed that 51 of 75 properties had window signs.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, three business owners spoke against the proposed changes, which are undergoing review by the Planning Commission.

Representing Shop Local Raleigh, Jennifer Martin asked that Councilors review the sign ordinance in its entirety and update it to reflect the changes that have occurred in the city since the original ordinance was put into place more than two decades ago.

“Ninety percent of our members complete review of sign ordinance,” she said.

Developer John Kane — known for the North Hills development — said the current sign ordinance is not only onerous for small businesses, but national retailers also find it difficult to comply.

Retailers, he said, are allowed to use only four colors, which, “makes everything very homogenous.”

“We don’t want to be Cary,” said Louie Bowen, owner of a costume shop on Glenwood Avenue, poking fun at Cary’s strict sign restrictions. “We want to be Raleigh.”

Following the comments, Councilors decided to form a task force to review the current proposal, but leave the comprehensive sign discussion for a later time.

Councilors asked that city staff come back in two weeks with member recommendations for the new task force.

“I’m not fully aware that we have all our bases covered,” said Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

The task force and Planning Commission will then have 45 days to review the proposed law changes, meet with residents and business owners and come back to Council with a recommendation. The task force and Commission will also bring back any other issues that were brought to light during the process.

City staff will report back to Council with the task force member list at its next meeting April 15.

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