Volume 16, Number 7
The Wake Forest Town Board shot down the opening proposal during their work session Tuesday evening, with Commissioner Margaret Stinnett telling the presenters from Municipal Gateways, “I didn’t think this was what we had in mind. It looks like advertising billboards.” Mayor Vivian Jones added, “I’m sorry. I don’t think anybody’s interested.”
Municipal Gateways proposed a free-standing sign on a metal pole with a message board that could be changed every eight seconds and a small Town of Wake Forest sign on top, the whole surrounded by metal curlicues. One of the selling points was that the town would get half of the advertising revenue from the three signs on roads leading into town.
But for another agenda item, one requested by Commissioner Brian Pate who had also sent Community Development Assistant Director Brendie Vega taking pictures of signs all over town, the discussion about LED and electronic message boards on signs in the neighborhood business and highway business districts was long and eventually inconclusive. But it will be revisited.
The signs discussed included a new one at Sam’s Express Car Wash, Walgreen’s, Capcom, Culver’s restaurant, American Pride Car Wash and the building housing FastMed and Health Smart Pharmacy.
“I want us to start looking at this,” Pate said. It may be strange for a realtor to object to signs, he said, but then explained he grew up in Myrtle Beach when it was 3,000 people and left because of the commercialization and flashing signs. “I don’t want us to become a town of flashing signs.”
Vega had explained that Wake Forest’s LED and electronic signs must be on a wall or in the ground, they cannot change in any less than two minutes, they cannot be animated or be flashing or giving the illusion of movement. However, a building can have four signs per wall and buildings facing more than one road can have signs on each frontage.
“I think we just have to be really careful going forward,” Pate said. “What do you want [the town] to look like in twenty years? We don’t want to go around tearing down signs.”
“I’ve always hated them,” Commissioner Margaret Stinnett said, adding she would support an ordinance change limiting those signs.
The mayor suggested asking the planning department (now included in the Community Development Department, if the town could reduce the possibility of having more than one sign. “I think we ought to do something about the size of the signs.”
“Can we just say no LED signage?” Pate asked.
Commissioner Jim Thompson suggested a criteria or standard be “how it flashes, what colors it has and when it flashes.”
Town attorney Toby Hampson said, “Sign regulations are a tough and touchy issue” because of the issues of free speech and commercial speech.
Jones asked Vega to come up with some suggestions for changes that could be made in the town ordinance to meet the objections that had been named.
“The animation is what bothers me,” Pate said. I just don’t like the way it looks.”
After reviewing the agenda for their business meeting Sept. 19, the board left the room to go into a closed session to consult with their attorney about an unnamed subject. There was no vote or decision when they returned.