Size of roadside signs likely to expand in Jackson

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

There's not enough time to count all the signs along East Jackson Boulevard, at least not while going the posted speed limit of 40 mph.

It's the busiest stretch of road in Jackson, and the commercial property is valuable simply because of the volume of traffic that passes by each day.

To take advantage of that value, however, potential customers must be aware of the businesses. Thus the need for signs.

The city of Jackson will likely pass an ordinance that will allow bigger signs in general commercial, or C-2, zones, like East Jackson Boulevard.

The board of aldermen on Monday night reviewed the second of three sections in a 138-page zoning review. The review includes many changes in all different types of zones.

In the first discussion of the zoning changes, the board addressed changes in residential zones. Monday night, the board focused on changes in commercial, professional and industrial zones.

The most notable change involves the size of signs -- not billboards -- that will be allowed in C-2 zones.

Currently, the city allows free-standing signs up to 60 square feet. Many signs, like the Hardee's and McDonald's signs, are bigger than that because their signs were erected before Jackson regulated signs.

"The thought has been that 60 square feet for C-2 is probably too small," said Jackson planning and building superintendent Janet Sanders. "For C-3, the uptown district, we allow larger signs and that didn't make a lot of sense, so we wanted to make it consistent across the board."

The new ordinance would also allow for joint or combination signs to be up to 200 square feet, in the event that two or more businesses occupy one lot.

And the proposed zoning ordinance will allow for even bigger signs in extraordinary circumstances with a special-use permit.

"Say we got a mall or something, we would allow a larger sign if it was absolutely necessary," Sanders said. "We really like our small signage and we don't want Jackson to get cluttered up with signs."

Jackson resident Ron Woodard Jr. said he had no problem with the proposed change.

"As long as it's in good taste and professionally done, I don't have a problem with it at all," he said.

Debbie Freeman, also of Jackson, agreed.

"I don't mind the signs," she said. "I don't understand why they would need to be bigger, but the signs don't bother me."

Doug Stacy, owner of Stacy's Carpet on East Jackson Boulevard next to Hardee's, knows firsthand the importance of signs. He doesn't have one.

"As soon as I'm done remodeling, I'm going to get a sign," he said. "I've been here 15 years and people in town still don't know where I'm at. I think a sign will help tremendously."

Ken Parrett, executive director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is a proponent of the changes.

"I think it's a good step and it shows the city is being progressive," Parrett said. "We were a big proponent to get the size of the signs changed in relation to the building, as long as it's not an obstruction from the road."

The board of aldermen still has one more section of zone ordinances to review. The draft has gone through a committee and the Planning and Zoning Board.

The next third of the review will include new billboard and parking regulations. The board of aldermen will review that section on Nov. 10. A public hearing has been set for Dec. 1.


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