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Sussex Council should adopt its proposed sign ordinance

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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As Sussex County Council gets set for today's hearing on its proposed new sign ordinance, sign companies and sign owners proposed an alternative ordinance.

The billboards issue arose months ago, when Sussex board of adjustment, beset with requests for sign variances, asked council to revise its ordinance. In response, council appointed a committee to consider revisions.

But who was appointed to that committee? A few county employees and a couple council members, but for the most part, participants on the committee represented sign companies or sign owners. Few and far between were people who have advocated for sign limits and better enforcement.

To their credit, even those with a vested interest in more and larger signs agreed the brightness of electronic signs must be controlled and that whatever ordinance is adopted, it must be enforced.

Sign companies may even have a point, in their alternate proposal, when it comes to a provision disallowing changes of messages on electronic signs after sunset if the signs otherwise adhere to the ordinance.

But on two key issues — variances and distance between billboards — sign owners and companies don't like the limits county officials have proposed. So they hired an attorney and developed their own proposal.

But these sign advocates already had their say. Now it's time for planning and zoning officials and council to act in the best, long-term interests of everyone else. Residents and property owners do not want our region to became a massive suburban clutter like the places people leave behind to come here.

It's time to limit billboards. Require at least 1,000 feet between an existing billboard and a new one, maintain billboard size limits and height at the existing 25 feet, and do not allow variances because there is no fair way to deny some and not others.

Adopt these reasonable limits of the county proposal now, before signs destroy the landscapes people come here to see.

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Original Publication Date: May 24, 2016

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