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BMA addressing billboard issues

Members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen were expected to address an amendment to the town’s sign ordinance that would allow one or more of the town’s “grandfathered” billboards to be replaced with changeable message signs.
These signs reportedly do more in less space by offering multiple sign faces on a rotating basis.
The ordinance submitted for BMA review was approved by the Planning Commission.
“This is a fairly significant change in policy,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “We’re behind the county and Johnson City in this area.”
Wolfe said care will be taken to ensure the changing sign faces are not a distraction to drivers, and the brightness of the signs is aesthetically pleasing to nearby neighborhoods.
Once a sign is up, if the Planning Commission receives complaints and deems it to be too bright, the town can require the sign be dimmed.
“A unique part of this ordinance is that a modification can be requested after the fact based on neighborhood input,” Wolfe said. “We think this is a very prudent approach.”
Aldermen also were expected to consider a second and final reading of the Retail Liquor Store Overlay Zone with an amendment to the Zoning Map during Monday night’s meeting.
The BMA approved the first reading of an ordinance to create the RLS Overlay Zone, which does not include a specific location, during its November meeting. Two zoning maps to define the exact location of potential liquor stores were reviewed, with the board approving the broader one.
The Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission then reviewed the map and proposed an amendment to add an RLS Overlay District with Sub-District 1 and Sub-District 2.
The ordinance creating the RLS Overlay district allows one liquor store in each sub-district, which would mean only two stores could open in Jonesborough initially. The amendment allows another sub-district to be created in the future if there is ever a need.
The Planning Commission also recommended adding a few parcels along the north side of Jackson Boulevard, east of Headtown Road, that had inadvertently been left off the original map. The removal of commercial property east of Burger King was recommended due to safety-related issues regarding access.
While the BMA will not be asked to approve the ordinance regulating retail liquor stores in Jonesborough until its January meeting, the creation of the overlay zone and its location are being completed now so interested applicants will know what properties are available. If the Liquor Store Ordinance regulating stores passes in January, the board will have until March 21, 2011, to process applications.
In another follow-up from the November BMA meeting, aldermen received recommendations from the Traffic Advisory Committee for speed tables on two narrow streets within the historic district.
The discussion on the number of cars driving above the speed limit on Woodrow Avenue last month prompted Wolfe to request the staff also take a look at South Third Avenue.
Research shows 58 percent of the traffic traveling westbound on Woodrow is going more than 5 miles above the speed limit, while 50 percent of the eastbound traffic is driving at the same rate.
On South Third Avenue, 66 percent of the traffic heading toward Depot Street is traveling 5 miles or more above the speed limit, and 65 percent of traffic heading toward Main Street is driving more than 5 miles above the speed limit.
The Traffic Advisory Committee recommended two speed tables on Woodrow Avenue near First Avenue and the AMEZ Church, with specific locations to be determined by an engineer. Two speed tables also were recommended for South Third Avenue, with only one being implemented initially in a location determined by the engineer.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said the speed tables are very effective in reducing the number of vehicles speeding.
The BMA also received an update on the partnership between the International Storytelling Center and Community Performance International to create a performance of stories collected in Jonesborough.
Phase One, the collection of stories, has essentially been completed. More than 150 interviews during the last several months collected a large number of stories on audio tape and video. A concerted effort was made to collect stories from the African-American community, especially those that relate to Booker T. Washington School.
A public reading of a preliminary script is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2011.