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Sidewalks Become Latest Battlefield in Growth Saga

Posted September 4, 2007

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— Amid the saga of the Triangle's growth, sidewalks, and the displays on them, have become the latest battlefield in the battle between advertising and aesthetics.

In fast-growing Zebulon, planning director Mark Hetrick is working on a proposal that would limit how much sidewalk space businesses could use for signs and other displays. Hetrick said it's a safety issue, with an increasing amount of traffic on Zebulon's streets and sidewalks.

Rows of merchandise commonly line the sidewalk outside Jane Denton's downtown shop, and Denton said they're crucial to the success of her business.

"It's about the only advertising I can do," Denton said.

Store manager Ann Austin said she worries that with scaled-back displays, people will just drive by her downtown thrift shop.

"It would not be good for business, not this kind of business," she said.

Hetrick said the town does not want to ban sidewalk displays but ensure that some space is left for "more or less just pedestrian and handicap accessibility to the sidewalks."

"We've had a few businesses take advantage of the outdoor displays, and we're just trying to get a better handle and regulate," he said.

In Cary, business owners said restrictive sign rules contained in a $33 million street-scape plan are costing them.

Town officials have opposed two fiber-optic trees placed outside the recently opened Havana Grill and a sidewalk sign outside Cookies in Bloom. Town leaders said such advertisements are distracting to drivers and create clutter.

Cary business owners have debated the town's sign rules before. The owner of a sign for South Hills Mall off Interstate 40 that is in violation has fought to keep the billboard pole sign up.

In July, council members rejected a proposal to amend the rule. The businessman said he was trying to come up with an alternative.


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  • scal Sep 4, 2007

    Wonder if I could make me a big sign that looks like an artistic mural, and have it cover the whole side of my building like the one they have at Sorrell's Paint and Wallpaper store?

  • spudthgr8 Sep 4, 2007

    Not only all the Real Estate signs, what about all of the political signs that not only go up but stay up and stay up and stay up......

  • -info- Sep 4, 2007

    let me know when the folks who elected the council complain, anytime the council wants to leave let me know, I have a spare pick-up

  • scal Sep 4, 2007

    Mmmm. Let's see. Today's special.....

  • scal Sep 4, 2007

    "...Only three types of businesses in Cary are allowed to have changeable copy signs – movie theaters, schools and gas stations, because they display changing information that’s vital to their business...."

    Now if that's not a loop hole I don't know what is. Why only three? Sounds like discrimination to me. Going to have to get me a good lawyer and a sign with changable copy.

  • scal Sep 4, 2007

    "....I think an asset to the city is to have something different, and that's what I'm trying to bring to the city," Cardoso said.

    Cary also has an ordinance that forbids artificial trees from being displayed outside a business. So Cardoso moved the trees further back on the patio. Town leaders still said the trees were a distraction to drivers.

    "We're 100 feet from the street," Cardoso added......"

    C'mon over to Raleigh. We love good business people who like to add things to our community.

  • scal Sep 4, 2007

    "...Cary Business Owners Upset Over Sign Rules ..."

    I'm glad I don't have a business in Cary. Much less live there. What freaks. This is what happens when you have people running a town that have nothing better to do.

  • Si Deus pro nobis quis contra no Sep 4, 2007

    sorry, they were talking about Cary - now it makes more since... I'll actually read the story next time :)

  • Si Deus pro nobis quis contra no Sep 4, 2007

    "two fiber-optic trees" - in Zebulon ?! That would be like putting a chandelier in a haunted house...

  • houndie Sep 4, 2007

    There is NOT that much traffic on Zebulon sidewalks...trust me. They just think there is.