Editorial: Signing off
After many months of talk, the latest (proposed) version of Gloucester’s sign ordinance will go to public hearing before county supervisors this month.
The planning commission has wrestled with the regulations for a seemingly endless period, in an effort to prevent an excess of temporary roadside signs and other notices that present, in some people’s opinions, aesthetic clutter.
The proposal is an attempt to make the rules more fair as well. But there is a big unfairness in the room that no one can do a thing about: the state pay-for-a-sign program, which places business names prominently along the roadside on signs with a standard and easily seen format—if the owner wants to pay for it.
Only certain types of businesses that cater to or are thought to appeal to the traveling public can take part. Is that right?
(As a parenthetical note: The Virginia Department of Transportation may be hurting for money, but it never seems to lack the funds to place more signs everywhere.)
In the meantime, local rules are often observed in the breach, as some businesses post their signs any which way hoping the sign police don’t notice. And others try to abide by the law, as best they understand it.
Signs draw customers, help businesses, help the county through sales and meal tax revenues. Supervisors need to keep these things in mind and approve the most lenient possible regulations in order not to stifle the local trade, but rather to boost everyone’s economy.
And state officials need to look at their roadside sign program (which probably produces much-needed revenue) and ask themselves if 1) it is fair to the business community as a whole and 2) if it is really necessary for the bottom line.
We are now signing off on this issue.