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Sign ordinance: Proposed change would pull plug on message boards

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Signs that display electronic messages won’t be allowed under a proposed revision of Georgetown County’s sign ordinance. Existing signs would be allowed to stay, but can’t be replaced.

The Planning Commission was due to meet last week to discuss changes to the ordinance, but the meeting was postponed because members wanted more time to read the proposal.

“It’s a very, very long document,” said Boyd Johnson, the county planning director. “I’m sure it’s going to change significantly.”

Among the proposed changes to the sign rules is a requirement that signs in the commercial district along Highway 17 on Waccamaw Neck conform to the design standards already in place for buildings. Those govern materials and colors.

The new ordinance would also require landscaping at the base of signs in that district.

Only gas stations and theaters that rely solely on message boards would be allowed to have such signs, and those signs wouldn’t be allowed to have scrolling messages under the proposed ordinance.

Signs for political campaigns wouldn’t be allowed more than 30 days before an election and would have to come down within seven days after voting. They are now allowed 60 days before an election.

The ordinance would allow “sandwich board” signs, but would require that they be taken down at the end of each business day.

The commission is likely to take up the issue in June, Johnson said. A recommendation could go to County Council in the fall. “It’s a difficult subject,” he said.

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