Williamston approves new signage guidelines, fees

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By David Meade

After more than a year of discussions, Williamston Town Council finally approved a new sign ordinance and in a related vote, approved funding for three new wayfinding signs during their regular meeting Monday. Council also heard department and program updates, revised a sewer ordinance and passed several resolutions.

Council unanimously approved first reading on a new sign ordinance which regulates all types of signs including electronic, political, temporary, portable, signs on trees and utility poles, billboards and even grand opening and going out of business signs and banners. Persons who want to place a political sign in the town will now have to put up a $100 deposit which will be refunded if the signs are removed after an election.

It also sets guidelines for signs and fees for permits including $50 for a permanent sign permit, $15 per sign for a temporary sign permit and $20 for special banner permits.

The ordinance as passed, does not state the fines for an offense.

Councilman Rockey Burgess has been heavily involed in the process. He said he and others have worked with the Williamston Police Department, the mayor, the Planning Commisssion and Main Street Williamston for over a year in developing the new sign ordinance.

He said overall he is pleased with the ordinance but there may be changes if needed.

Burgess said after a year of discussions and meetings to work on it, “It is the best thing we could come up with.”

Council unanimously approved a resolution requesting C Funds from the Anderson County Transportation Committee for repairs to the roadway at the entrance to the Gatewood Subdivision. The road is in need of expensive repairs as the result of a washout around the culvert which allows Big Creek to flow under the roadway.

Wording in the town’s sewer ordinance was updated to meet DHEC permitting requirements.

Wording in the 43 page document has already been approved by DHEC and must be approved by the town council to make it enforceable. There were approximately ten changes to the document.

Council approved up to $6000 for three wayfinding signs which will be placed at Academy St., Minor St. and Hamilton St.

According to Mayor Mack Durham, the town received two bids for the signs ranging from $1000 to $1860 each. Councilman Otis Scott questioned why the town had not gotten three bids as required under the town’s purchasing policy.

Mayor Durham responded that only two companies had submitted bids on the signs which are being designed in conjunction with the new Main Street Williamston program and the town’s new sign ordinance.

A question of whether businesses are allowed to be on the signs was addressed in executive session, however there was no explanation or answer in public.

One of the bids states SCDOT regulations prohibit the use of any business listings on the signs.

The aluminum signs meet SCDOT guidelines and will have arrows pointing visitors to Mineral Spring Park, Town Hall, Artory, High School and Farmers Market.

The concept for the wayfinding sign is to also include several businesses that are located off Main Street and have used temporary signs to direct out of town customers to their business.

In other business, Council approved a resolution designating November as American Diabetes month.

During public comments, Pamela Owens asked council to help keep trophies for the recreation program local in Williamston and asked council for support for repairs to reopen the Gray Drive Bridge.

Daniel Gambell thanked the town for the festivals and events and said he appreciated what they do.

Main Street Williamston Executive Director Caroline Alex said she is working with the town on a new business guide which will have information and contacts for persons opening a new business. She said she is also working on a brochure and an ad for a visitors guide, on economic restructuring and participated in the GWBA golf tournament. Alex said she had recently been recognized by the local daily newspaper Top 20 under 40 and will be attending Leadership training in association with the program.

Captain Kevin Marsee gave a report on the WPD. Marsee said the departmenht answered 1856 calls in October. Included were 11 arrests, 15 tickets, 105 traffic stops, 80 warnings, 26 assists to other agencies, 56 suspicious persons, 31 alarms and 37 domestic calls.

Rebecca McKinney reported the Farmers Market did very well and attendance and sales during the Homestead Festival was up. She said the vendors were very happy with the response.

McKinney said she is working through the local food scene to support local farmers. She is also working with vendors and the Career and Technology Center to provide gift packages in conjunction with the Municipal Association when it meets in Williamston.

Councilman David Harvell urged people to be careful with heaters and ovens as the weather turns cooler.