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New guidelines for signs, yard sales begin Oct. 1 in Thomson

Business owners and residents soon will see a series of changes to the way they can post signs in the city limits of Thomson.

City Council members unanimously approved a new sign ordinance during their regular monthly meeting held at city hall last Thursday night. The new ordinance will take effect Oct. 1.

The rules cover everything from the size of signs on buildings to the use of signs at yard sales.

"I think it is time to move forward and start getting familiar with (the new guidelines) and using them on a daily basis," City Administrator Don Powers said.

A portion of the city's new rules are patterned after similar guidelines in Peachtree City, Ga., City Planning and Zoning Director Fred Guerrant said.

Mayor Kenneth Usry said city leaders know there may be some tweaking as they move forward.

"We might be a little tight (at first), but we can always back up," Mayor Usry said.

Some of the biggest changes for residents are the rules governing yard sales. The organizers of such sales must first apply for a permit from the city in order to hold any yard sale, use directional signs purchased from or approved by city officials. Persons will only be allowed two yard sales per year. Additionally, there also are rules about where those yard sales signs can be placed and how long the signs can be posted.

Weekend directional signs shall be limited to garage, yard and estate sale signs. They will be allowed in all city zoning districts. Only weekend directional signs approved by city officials may be used as a garage, yard or estate sale sign. Those signs can be obtained at city hall.

The purpose and intent of the city's new sign ordinance is to provide better overall public safety, including traffic-related safety and to assure aesthetic harmony and compatibility of signs with surrounding land uses. City officials also hope to enhance the business and economy of the city and to protect the public investment in streets and roads, to maintain tranquil environment of residential areas and to promote industry and commerce. Additionally, city officials also want to provide for orderly and reasonable display of advertisements that benefit all residents.

In other business:

Council members approved the leasing of the old farmers market, located across from Culpepper Lumber Company, on the Augusta Highway to officials of a new church - Abundant Life Church.

The lease amount will be for $1,000 a month for up to two years. The first three months of rent "will be forgiven" in exchange for the church group making repairs on the building.

The building is empty except for a few items being stored there by Habitat for Humanity and the McDuffie Museum.

Web posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009

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