After months of discussion at policy work sessions and council meetings, the Norcross City Council voted to deny three proposals to add gateway signage and digital reader boards at three intersections Monday at their February meeting.
First brought to the council as one agenda item, the issue was separated into three items so that they could vote on each sign individually. The proposed LED signs were for the intersections of Holcomb Bridge Road and Buford Highway (which estimated to cost anywhere from $29,288 to $35,605); Holcomb Bridge and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard ($44,069 to $53,885); and Jones Street and Wingo Street/the railroad ($19,930 and $27,361).
The first intersection discussed was Holcomb Bridge and Buford Highway, which was denied 5-0.
One concern that Councilman Keith Shewbert brought to the table was that the look of Buford Highway is changing with new developers and such, so adding a gateway sign to this intersection could be a premature move.
Mayor Bucky Johnson pointed out that a sign there is crucial, though. He noted how last year's LCI study determined that 38,000 cars pass by that part of Buford Highway everyday.
"I can't tell you how many times people come into town and not even have known downtown was there because there was no direction to downtown," he said, adding that he initially was the one who recommended the sign there.
Councilman Riehm voiced doubts on how many people would truly be intrigued enough by the sign alone to go down Holcomb Bridge to see downtown Norcross. He said it may be wiser to put that money instead toward marketing events.
Councilman David McLeroy said he doesn't believe the city needs any digital boards in the historic areas, and that he's heard many complaints from citizens who are against it.
For the digital reader board on Jones Street, the council were split 3-2 in denying the proposal, with Riehm and Councilman Craig Newton voting against the motion. Newton admitted that he was against the new sign at first, but now favors it because the LED sign would be visible in the dark.
"At night the board is useless. If there's information that needs to go out from the city, at night it's just empty," Newton said. "I'd like to see that sign lit up."
Riehm and Shewbert also debated on the issue of the board being used for commercial/advertising purposes versus being a public service.
For the sign at Peachtree Industrial and Holcomb Bridge, the proposal asks to have a digital board added to the existing gateway sign that was built there last year. The item was voted 4-1, with Riehm voting against the denial.
The reader board and signage discussion started in the July policy work session. Back then, Riehm proposed to replace only the downtown board, and even then, the council was split on the issue. A few concerns was that the proposed board wouldn't fit into the historic feel since it would be digital, and also that there were other areas that would benefit more from city signage. In the following months, the Holcomb Bridge signs were added to the agenda.
Also discussed in Monday's meeting was the Senior Utility Exemption item, which was voted 3-2 in favor of. The proposal asked to clarify the language in the Utility Codes Rates Schedule to say that tenants who are 62 and older should be the homeowners and the current residents.
Shewbert and Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Hixson both voted against the item. Shewbert disagreed with the exemption altogether, saying that all citizens should be treated equally.
Other items on the agenda:
-The parking lot project at Norcross City Hall was tabled, again, to the February policy work session. The original project, which was approved in October, converted the parking lot's seven spots into 18, but it blocked the connectivity to Wingo Street. A second project was proposed where the lot was still open to Wingo, but the number of parking spaces decreased to 14. At the February city council meeting, Riehm pointed out that he would like to see a third option since an unused portion of the lot in the second proposed project could be utilized more.
-The resolution to accept a Community Development Block Grant award for $564,400 was passed. The funds will go toward constructing sidewalk accessibility improvements on Price Place, Center Way, North Peachtree Street, West Peachtree Street, Mitchell Road and Old Norcross Road.
-The revision for the Noise Control Ordinance was tabled so that more information on decibels and where the decibels should be measured (if it's at the site of the noise, at the edge of the property or at the site of the complaint) can be clarified and considered before a motion was made.
-Master gardener and Patch blogger Julie Foster has been named to fill a vacant spot on the Norcross Tree Board.
-The ECG Intergovernmental Participant Contract and the 2013 qualifying fees for the council and mayor were both passed on the consent agenda.
The meeting adjourned in memory of Reuben A. "Junior" Gant, a former Norcross councilman and volunteer fire chief who passed away last December. The mayor gave a proclamation to his family.
- Does Downtown Norcross Need More Parking?
- More Parking Coming to City Hall
- Norcross City Hall Parking Project Tabled
- Should Norcross Replace its Reader Board With a Digital One?