Local Politics

Raleigh OKs more special signage for local businesses

Posted June 5, 2012 5:27 p.m. EDT

— The City Council voted Tuesday to loosen Raleigh's rules for business signage, after months of hearings by a special task force and protests by costumed characters.

After businesses protested last fall that Raleigh's regulations on advertising signs were too stringent, the City Council created a seven-member panel to review the sign ordinance for possible changes.

Businesses previously were allowed signs for special events only for their grand opening and a going-out-of-business sale. Under the revisions approved 7-1 Tuesday, businesses can get a 20-day permit each year to advertise a special event, as well as three three-day permits for special weekend events a year.

Temporary businesses also will be able to advertise a special event like the sale of fireworks or produce for 20 days with a permit.

The new rules don't address costumed characters as signs. City inspectors have traditionally ruled that people dressed in costume to attract customers violate the sign ordinance, which prompted the owner of a Glenwood Avenue costume shop to bring an array of characters to task force meetings.

"If I can’t wave on the side of the road with a costume, I don’t want to see any signs," shop owner Louie Bowen told the panel in February. "We’re not asking anything but for a way to make a living, and we’re also asking for everyone to be treated the same.”

Councilman Thomas Crowder was the lone vote against the new rules.

In other business, the council decided to drop a local pet license fee. The fee had been in place to help defray the cost of finding lost dogs and cats, but the council noted that most pets now have microchips to aid in reuniting them with their owners.

The council also voted to implement an additional $10 fee for people who delay in paying parking tickets. The extra fee will help the city meet a $50 threshold set for it to get money from scofflaws' state tax returns.