Banners under fireExpert says city wont profit from banner use

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 23, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Cheryl Morgan disappointed some business owners Thursday during a community meeting to discuss banner advertising in the city.

Morgan, an architect and community planner who also teaches at Auburn University, said banner advertisements were not an ideal solution for a city like Demopolis.

&8220;Signage is critically important to a business,&8221; Morgan said. But banners would only add to visual clutter. &8220;But banners &8230; I think a lot of people have a nostalgic image of banners that they associate with parades and festive occasions. That is energy and occasion that we romanticize. But for a lot of people, (banners) evoke a used-car lot. It&8217;s almost easier not to have them at all.&8221;

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But businesses in Demopolis have chafed under an ordinance that has banned the banners &8212; and they want the ordinance repealed or reworked. The city council has been receptive to the idea, and the planning commission has moved forward with an ordinance that proposes businesses be allowed to use banners for two weeks at a time for up to four times a year.

Morgan, however, said that she sees problems with that idea.

But business owner Mike Walters said businesses in Demopolis aren&8217;t looking to grow at this point &8212; they&8217;re simply looking to survive, and finding a cheap means of advertising like a banner can help.

If the city is committed to allowing banner advertisements for businesses, Morgan said the best idea might be a test period for the policy, then decide whether the city wanted to keep the ordinance.

The Demopolis planning commission expects to present a new banner ordinance to the city council within the next two months.