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Downtown sign amendment proposed, will go to City Council

READ MORE: Downtown sign amendment proposed, will go to City Council
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's a tug of war over window signs at Wilmington businesses. The City of Wilmington held a public meeting Thursday on downtown regulations for window signs, unveiling an amendment to the current ordinance.

The new plan allows for signs, which includes temporary signs, to cover up to 50 percent of a window. The current rule only allows for 10 percent.

“I think that will really meet the needs of a lot of the businesses, especially the ones that may have what was considered excessive signage,” said Chris Andrews, a manager at Front Street Brewery and member of the Downtown Business Alliance. “We're very appreciative that the city has been willing to work with the businesses in downtown.”

But to some business owners, the resolution is not good enough.

“I just think this is just a way to control the way things look too much,” said Hunter Ford, the owner of Momentum Surf and Skate. “What we rent inside of these spaces and what we own inside of these spaces should be up to us.”

“It was a smoke and mirrors show and I didn't fall for it,” said Justin LaNasa, who owns Hardwire Tattoo.

Thursday was the third public meeting held, where downtown stakeholders came together to share ideas on how to improve the sign regulation.

“This has really shown that they city is willing to listen to stake holders, be it downtown, midtown, bordering the town,” Andrews said.

Ford says the meetings did nothing to solve the problem.

“I went to several of them and it was the same people talking about the same things,” Ford said. “The city has already made their mind up on what they want to happen.”

It seems the debate will not be settled any time soon, so for now the signs are not clear.

The draft recommendation will be presented to the Planning Committee in April and then to City Council in May.

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There are a lot of empty

There are a lot of empty buildings on Front Street. Businesses struggle everyday with making ends meet and the city council is enforcing 'beautification' laws on struggling businesses. The ordinance's wording suggest the rule is applied to the entire city, but only downtown businesses have been threatened with fines. If you want to make all the mom and pop shops live under the city council ideals of beauty, why not force all the big box marts to take down their window advertisements?

Failed to fully engage???

It is reported that more than 100 stakeholders attended the original input meeting at City Hall and expressed concerns, posted preferences on depiction boards which represented different percentages of window coverage and completed written surveys. The city compiled results from the first meeting, distributed it via emails and the city website. Then all stakeholders were encouraged via email and media to attend a second meeting where small groups were asked to give more detailed input. At this second meeting - at least in my small group, everyone was encouraged to speak and was given ample time to voice any comment. These small groups were tasked with arriving upon a consensus. Of the three topics the small group members were asked to vote upon, there was almost complete consensus in my group. The results from our votes seem to be the basis for the new ordinance.
At the previous two meetings, all attendees were asked to sign-in and provide an email address for the city to forward updates. Sadly, at the second meeting when individual input was given such significant value there was less than two dozen attendees. City staff had materials and facilitators prepared to allow more than 100 to take advantage of small group input. Of the 20 or so who showed for the second meeting there were at least three who were not business owners, rather simply interested individuals.
I understand if one completely disagrees about such regulations based on principles of freedom. In this instance the City of Wilmington went to great effort to diplomatically "correct a wrong" in a very democratic manner. If one disagrees with the current proposal and did not express an opinion at the second meeting, maybe the attendance register should be checked. Even if one disagrees with the process, without engaging in the opportunity to affect the outcome, one's actions might be considered bordering on hypocritical....

Go elsewhere then!!

If Justin LaNasty and Hunter Ford want their businesses to look like trash then go elsewhere. I have been at all of the meetings and the city admitted that mistakes were initially made and want an ordinance that is fair but does not make the city look like trash. All this idiot Hunter Ford wants to do is get on camera and make a name for himself. I watched him at 2 meetings and it was very obvious that he wanted attention. Well, Lanasty is just that, period.

“This has really shown

“This has really shown that they city is willing to listen to stake holders, be it downtown, midtown, bordering the town,” Andrews said.

I'm sorry Mr. Andrews but you are mistaken. The council is only trying to appear the listen to the citizens of Wilmington. They did the same thing with the convention center. There were several meetings and the people adamantly voiced their objections. There were even votes on the ballot that showed that the people of Wilmington did not want it. The council did it anyway. They will do what they want with the signs as well.

Absolutely correct.

I was at that meeting. It was a "feel Good" kind of thing. I saw people taking notes. Maybe to justify the meeting. Council member Laura Padgett was there. Only a few business owners showed up. I realise that some of them were busy running their business, but this is important.

Some of us, who do not even own a business downtownn spoke up. We did that for the simple reason that those of us who patronize downtown businesses would like to see a thriving and vibrant downtown.

Signs should be the province of the business owner. It is all about supply and demand. If you put signs in your window that disturb me, I will not shop at your place of business. End of story!!

Downtown sign amendment proposed, will go to City Council

I think the great electric signs are great for business , Hard wire is perfect for their business , but I see Momentum , a tiny little shop that promotes hate with signs in their window to boycot other downtown businesses . Look at the problem like Hunter Ford who are trouble makers not other businesses . Downtown is growing , why shut down the growth because of one trouble maker Hunter Ford !!