Chamber seeks change

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 7, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Current city ordinances regarding sign regulations may be altered in the near future if a proposal presented by the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to the city planning commission is approved.

The board is making its presentation on behalf of city merchants who disagree with the current ordinances to the commission at 5:15 p.m. today at Rooster Hall. The main ordinance in question prohibits windblown devices, including any banner. Chamber President Kelley Smith said the ordinance prevents businesses from advertising sales and new products, which are pertinent to a small-town business&8217; success.

Smith said the current ordinances are restricting to businesses and there is no standard practice on the enforcement of the laws.

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The Chamber conducted a survey with local merchants last fall regarding the issue of this ordinance and approximately 75 percent of the returned surveys were negative against the current ordinance.

Mike Walters, owner of Larry Walters Furniture in Demopolis, echoed Smiths&8217; sentiments on the prohibition of banners.

Walters said the difficulty lies in challenges within the declining population and troublesome economy as well as competition with large businesses that have larger advertising base and advertising and marketing departments.

Smith said the ordinance has been enforced for some area businesses; however, others have not been warned or made remove banners or other prohibited signs.

Gutherie&8217;s of Demopolis has also been subject to the ordinance enforcement, Manager Wendell Jenkins said.

Jenkins said since the city enforced the ordinance, Gutherie&8217;s was forced to turn to a more expensive advertising outlet.

Smith said cities have begun adapting their banner ordinances in order to increase revenue for its merchants. Most recently, she noted the City of Northport making changes to their old ordinances to better serve their local merchants.

Smith said the Chamber agrees with preserving tasteful signs and keeping the displays in appropriate condition.