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New banner ordinance considered

DEMOPOLIS &8212; It didn&8217;t take new planning commission member Len Cowling to make his feelings known as the body wrestled with the city&8217;s banner ordinance Tuesday night.

Cowlings&8217; remarks came as the planning commission went through a proposed new ordinance point-by-point to tailor the law to the city&8217;s needs.

But Cowling represents a number of city business owners who have been chafing under what they see as a restrictive banner ordinance. In Demopolis, banner advertising for private businesses is against city ordinances. Period.

It&8217;s been that way since the city council passed the existing law in 1998, Mayor Cecil P. Williamson told Cowling.

Prior to that, Williamson said banners and temporary signs were being &8220;&8230; abused. They were overused and blatantly abused,&8221; Williamson said.

Commission member Max Bailey characterized the proposed new ordinance as middle ground, a law that city business owners and supporters of the banner ban could both get behind.

The proposed ordinance has the support of most of the commission. At this point it is not a question of if the banner ban will be lifted &8212; the question is when.

Tuesday&8217;s meeting was slowed by detail work as commissioners pored over the proposed ordinance. Changes included eliminating the number of banners businesses may hang at one time and limiting the size of the banners to a maximum of 30 square feet.

The commission hopes to have a finalized ordinance sometime this week, in order to advertise it for a possible June 27 public hearing. If that happens, the city council could have the bill in its possession for its first meeting in July.