Sign of the times

City looks to revamp sign ordinance

By Brian Bloom

Regional Manager


Proposed changes in the City of Bartlett’s sign ordinance could provide for more administrative authority and less cumbersome procedures for applicants to navigate, consultant Charles Goforth said.

Goforth, a former Bartlett city planner, presented a series of changes to the combined board of aldermen and representatives from the design review commission Saturday morning.

Currently many elements relating to store signage are considered onerous by applicants and may require aldermen approval. The proposed changes, after consultation with business representatives, aldermen and planning staff, would allow some elements in the process to be reviewed and approved by staff with involvement from the Design Review Commission.

Other changes involve the actual definition of signage and the method of measuring signs. Signs included window clings, monuments, political signs, flashing signs and providing opportunity for signs to be extended from the building’s face in specific primarily pedestrian areas.

Goforth, owner of Goforth Planning and Management, recommended new formulas in the size of signs based on frontage. These recommendations were designed to alleviate many of the variances currently requested of the board.

Other ordinance changes included extending the special sign corridor an additional 2,000 feet down Germantown Parkway and addressed the number of ground signs allowed by applicants.

“Part of the problem with signs on buildings is that we demanded the planting of trees per ordinance and you can’t see the signs,” Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said.

The changes recommended by Goforth are designed to balance the need for commercial development and Bartlett being business friendly with community aesthetics.

“We don’t want to look like Summer Avenue or Covington Pike,” McDonald told the combined board, “but we don’t want to be so restrictive businesses can’t succeed.”

Part of the problem, the mayor said, was that many small businesses don’t always plan ahead or know what to plan for when working with the city.
“The more things we can do administratively, the easier we can make it for the small business,” the mayor said.

Part of that assistance includes a plan to create the position of a small business advocate through the Bartlett Chamber. This person would help applicants through a sometimes confusing application process.

“I don’t think anyone wants signage blight,” the mayor said, “but I believe in the carrot and the club philosophy. “We’ve tried the club; we want to work with these businesses.”

The Design Review Commission is expected to make recommendations to the ordinance in their January meeting before possible approval from the board of aldermen.