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HZC committee to review advertising guidelines

Dr. William Kennedy, chair of the Historic Zoning Commission, led an orientation session on Aug. 25 for members he recently appointed to the ad hoc committee established to review the HZC Advertising Standards and Guidelines.
Committee members are Mark Edmonds, chair, Mike Chikar, Tom Foster, Jeff Gurley, Marcy Hawley, Herman Jenkins and Mitzi Sobel.
Kennedy referenced multiple sections of the Jonesborough Business and Advertising Signs ordinance that provide authorization to the HZC for signs in the Historic District.
He referred specifically to Section 11-1214 Sign Regulations by District, which state the following regarding the Historic District: Signs in H-1 and H-2 overlay zones are governed by the advertising standards and guidelines adopted for these zones and administered by the Jonesborough Historic Zoning Commission. When conflict may occur between the Historic Zoning Commission’s standards and guidelines and the sign regulations established in this chapter, the standards and guidelines of the Historic Zoning Commission shall govern.
The establishment of a committee to review the advertising standards, according to Kennedy, stemmed from objections made to the lighted, flashing open sign in the window of The Crazy Cupcake.
“Is the flickering wrong?” Jenkins asked.
Kennedy said the flashing drew attention, but the sign’s internal lighting was the main reason for the complaints.
“With modern technology and modern materials, we need to consider which are appropriate and which are not, and if there is some modern technology we want to rule out,” Kennedy said.
Other businesses in the Historic District with internally lit signs are Another Touch Bakery and the Lavender Shop.
Kennedy said there are many philosophical reasons behind the advertising standards and guidelines.
The first paragraph of the document states: The balance between the advertising needs of business and the needs for survival of the character of Historic Jonesborough is delicate and fragile. Commercial messages cannot dominate or visually disrupt the townscape without losing many consumers drawn by Jonesborough’s unusual and authentic historic atmosphere.
“To me, that’s a very important guideline we need to keep in mind,” he said.
Sobel said tourists are important to businesses, but they don’t provide year-round support. “You also need to catch people’s attention, and people who come here want that historic experience,” she said.
Gurley said he met with Town Administrator Bob Browning and some members of the Jonesborough Merchants and Services Association to talk about the matter.
“I don’t like the lit open sign and I don’t use them,” Gurley said, “but I understand why they would be used in a part of town that has inconsistent operating hours.”
Gurley said he would be in favor of a brochure with a walking tour of the businesses.
“For whatever reason, people don’t walk the whole four blocks,” he said.
“That’s why they’re using the open signs. We’re not spreading them (visitors) around.”
Kennedy was pleased with the discussion. “This really brings me to what I hope you will do as a committee,” he said.
“I wanted you to go beyond the advertising guidelines and make recommendations to any groups you think would help.”
Kennedy referred to the purpose and intent of the standards, which are:
To encourage good design in the overall image and visual environment of the town.
To protect property values, to enhance the appearance of the business community and to stimulate the economic vitality of Jonesborough.
To ensure that signs are adequate, but not excessive, for the intended purpose of identification or advertisement.
To avoid excessive competition for signs so that permitted signs provide identification and direction while minimizing clutter and unsightliness.
“We don’t want to cut down on the diversity and creativity of the signs,” Kennedy said.
“Through the last decade, we have tended to get more uniform.”
Kennedy also encouraged members to keep in mind their responsibility for maintaining the town’s visual and aesthetic character.
“You can be very specific as a committee in recommending changes to the Historic Zoning Commission, but there is a broader duty as well,” he said.
The next meeting of the committee will be held Thursday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m.