Sign ordinance frustrates store owners

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If you drive past Weaver’s on St. Joseph Street, you won’t see a sign advertising the longtime downtown business.

Owner Andrew Clark said he has chosen to advertise the brands he sells rather than the store name, hoping to attract more drive-by customers.

A newly revised sign ordinance means Clark and other downtown businesses have fewer opportunities to advertise their businesses on their buildings, business owners say.

“We took down our Weaver’s sign,” Clark said. “I left up my Columbia sign, because I know people who don’t know us will see that and know we sell it.”

Weaver’s and Orleans Poboys recently received letters from the city advising them of problems with sign ordinance violations.

Earlier this month, the city revised its sign ordinance to say that businesses can have no more than one sign per side of the building, and businesses in the downtown historic district can use sandwich board signs during business hours — one in the front and one in the back.

The sign ordinance has long held that banners must be temporary and must be taken down after seven days.

Clark said he understands the need for a sign ordinance, but he said he thinks the city has other things to worry about.

“The enforcement exceeded my expectations,” he said.

Orleans Poboys manager Steven Smith said he was also surprised by the letter from the city.

“Our signs are tastefully done,” he said, noting that fewer signs give his restaurant fewer opportunities to advertise.

“We need to be realistic,” Smith said. “We don’t need to be doing things that inhibit businesses.”

Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace said the sign ordinance changes which were approved by the city council earlier this month originated with the city’s planning commission. They were published twice in The Brewton Standard and approved by the council before being enforced.

“The process takes about three months,” he said.