Friday, April 29, 2011

Signs of change in Hailey

City considers changes to business sign laws

Express Staff Writer

Flashing signs are prohibited in Hailey. They could be allowed if the city passes proposed changes to the sign ordinance. Photo by David N. Seelig

There's an old saying that a business without a sign is a sign of no business. But the kind of signs a city allows can be a matter of merchandising necessity, taste or even safety.

The Hailey City Council will try to balance the needs of business owners with the aesthetic standards of the Hailey Community Development Department at a council meeting Monday, May 2. The council will consider two changes to the city's sign ordinance for the downtown business district.

The city's prohibition on flashing store signs could be lifted and use of "temporary" vinyl signs could be to limited 72 hours or less.

Hailey Community Development Department Director Beth Robrahn said vinyl signs may not give the "right impression" with regard to the town's aesthetics. She also said they look temporary, but are being used as permanent signs by some businesses.

Jane Drussel, owner of Jane's Artifacts on Main Street in Hailey, said at a council meeting on Monday, April 25, that the city should not be too restrictive in its sign laws. She said Hailey businesses must vie for the attention of potential shoppers driving north toward Ketchum.

"In order to get people to stop, you have to be different," Drussell said. "We shouldn't be too 'cookie cutter' about it. Successful businesses have large signs."

Councilman Fritz Haemmerle said he supported looser restrictions on flashing, vinyl and other types of signs.

Councilman Don Keirn said he held the "opposite opinion."

"There could be a domino effect, and pretty soon Main Street would look like Virginia Avenue in Reno," Keirn said.

Virginia Avenue is a commercial strip with numerous flashing, lighted signs.

Business owners and residents are invited to provide public comment on the proposed sign ordinance changes on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Hailey City Hall.

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