Richmond Hill city officials are proposing an ordinance change that would allow billboards and interchangeable electronic signs to be placed along designated areas of Hwy. 17 and Hwy.144.
Currently they are only allowed along the interstate.
City manager Mike Melton said members of council are proposing this as an answer to the requests they have received from sign companies to erect billboards in the city.
If approved, billboards would be allowed along Hwy. 144 from Thunderbird Drive to Fort Stewart and on Hwy. 17 from Harris Trail to Ponderosa Road, while electronic signs would only be allowed in the Hwy. 17-144 intersection corridors.
A public hearing was held regarding the proposal, in front of the Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.
Four individuals, all employees of sign companies, signed up to speak. Each commended the city for the proposed ordinance change.
"We’ve been contacted by numerous retailers interested in this coverage area," said Greg Phillips with Georgia Outdoor Advertising.
After the public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the ordinance change in a 2-1 vote. Commissioners Rey Osorio and Brian Baraniak voted to approve while Commissioner Fred Giebrich voted to disapprove.
Final approval must come from city council before the sign ordinance is changed.
The council is slated to hear the first reading Aug. 5 and will officially approve or disapprove the motion after the second reading during the Aug. 19 council meeting.
"I’ve lived here for 14 years, and there is a lot of ways we have enhanced our architectural design while, at the same time, trying to preserve the old Richmond Hill atmosphere," Osorio said. "I think this is a big step for us. I think it will enhance business opportunities here. We have to embrace the old and also the new, as long as we’re cautious as we go. We can’t stay in the past, and I think this a good medium."
Giebrich said he believes many residents are opposed to having billboards in the city. He said he asked his church group about their opinion on the topic, and they were all opposed to the idea. He also said it conflicts with ongoing beautification and preservation projects.
Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar stressed that the proposed ordinance is in draft form and changes may still be made to it.
See attached maps to see where the billboards and signs could be placed in accordance with this proposed ordinance change.