Among the items the Chapel Hill Town Council will be reviewing at tonight's public hearing is a revision to the LUMO to loosen the regulations on ground signs at commercial developments outside of downtown, including:
- Removing the limit on the amount of information that can be displayed on the sign;
- Increasing the maximum information display area from 15 to 50-72 square feet;
- Increasing the maximum overall signage area from 15 to 216 square feet; and
- Increasing the maximum height from 8 feet to 10-12 feet, depending on the speed limit of the adjacent road.
It seems like often when commercial development issues come up, the discussion devolves into a narrow focus on pitting economic development interests with those of the environment, social issues, neighborhood conservation, etc. But so long as basic safety precautions are met, and signage doesn’t interfere with (and ideally enhances) navigation, it can hardly be argued that sign regulations are much more than exercises in aesthetics. That’s not to demote their importance - most people probably don't want Chapel Hill to end up looking like, err, other places we may have encountered in North Carolina. But it raises some interesting questions. What extent does signage play in the success of a business? What are we willing to allow, and what goes too far? Personally, I feel like the proposed changes to the ordinance are a step in the right direction, but what do y'all think?
After tonight's hearing, the issue is slated to return to the Council on March 28th. Here's the link for additional information.