All signs in Vidalia require board approval

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

VIDALIA — Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, except in Vidalia if you don’t have the board of aldermen’s permission.

The city’s sign ordinance was discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the board of aldermen after Lawrence Chauvin with Rhino Graphics appeared before the council with a suggested amendment to the ordinance.

The ordinance, written in the 1970s, does not specifically address temporary signs, Chauvin said.

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What the ordinance does say is that no sign can be erected in the city — temporary or permanent — without the approval of the board, City Attorney Jack McLemore said.

“At one time you would go down Carter Street and it looked like the Firestone 500, and some of those signs were handmade,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “At that time, the board said they wanted no exceptions.”

The no exception rule is in place to be fair, Copeland said.

Even signs advertising garage sales fall under the no exception rule of the ordinance, Copeland said, and this week a business that advertises with temporary signs once a week was told not to do so anymore.

When Chauvin asked about political signs, McLemore said the ordinance has an exclusion for election season, but the signs have to be in certain areas.

“So the exception can serve the politician but not the businesses?” Chauvin said.

Alderwoman Maureen “Mo” Saunders said she is a strong advocate of the no exception rule.

“Have you gone out and looked at all of those little signs when they’re out there? We had them from one end of this town to the other, and it does not look good,” she said.

“If (the city) looks trashy, (businesses) are not going to come here. We have had a lot of businesses come here because this town does look good.”

During the course of the discussion, it was discovered the copy of the ordinance Chauvin had did not contain amendments made since the 1970s, and McLemore said he would be happy to let Chauvin come in to his office to review the full ordinance and, if he had any suggestions to make to the aldermen after doing so he could.

The aldermen also voted to amend the city’s abandoned vehicle ordinance.

The content of the ordinance stayed the same, but the fine was increased to as much as $500, with the storage fee of abandoned vehicles set at no less than $10 and mo More than $15 a day.

“If you don’t move it or take care of it, we will take care of it for you,” McLemore said. “If you don’t pick it up in 30 days we are going to sell it.”