Commission expresses mixed opinions on possibility of a 40-foot digital sign

by Madison White Franks

KILMARNOCK—Graylend Horn’s idea for a new digital sign to advertise his business and promote community activities prompted lively discussion at the Kilmarnock planning commission meeting Monday night.

Horn owns Northern Neck Ace Hardware at 96 School Street in Kilmarnock.

He noted his idea does not fit in with the town ordinances and regulations and that is why he wanted to get some input from different members of the community before proceeding.

Horn wants to put a $15,000, 40-square-foot, one-sided digital sign on the side of the building at the intersection of Main Street and Cralle Court in Kilmarnock. The sign could be used to promote activities of non-profits such as Festival of the Trees, the Bay Seafood Festival, the Christmas parade…anything that is going on in the town, said Horn. He also wants to advertise his business on the sign.

Commission member Les Spivey noted the sign would only be seen when driving south.

Horn acknowledged town ordinances limit signage to 24 square feet, therefore, if he were to continue the effort to get the sign, he would have to get a variance. He also noted reservations that it might be considered a billboard.

“For this sign to work, I would have to have relative information for the town,” said Horn.

Planning and zoning director Marshall Sebra indicated the proposed signage would require several variances.

“The billboard aspect and general advertising signs are prohibited—period. That’s one variance that he would have to obtain. The size requirement is 24 square feet for electronic message boards. The fact that Ace Hardware will be advertised on there, we don’t allow off site business signs except for directional signs…for it all to be legit, he would have to call it his directional sign in some fashion to be able to get a variance from that section,” said Sebra.

Commission member Spike Nunn voiced concern about distractions with a flashing sign and Horn stated the Virginia Department of Transportation has said that it is not a distraction and they have certain regulations for this type of sign concerning movement.

Nunn said Horn would be swimming upstream with all the zoning regulations and urged Horn to try to comply with regulations.

“I think it’s a good idea…if it can be managed with the town,” said commission member Dr. Curtis Smith.

Commission chairman Ann Towner said this sign would not be in keeping with the character of the Steptoe’s District.

Sebra noted the planning commission and the town council have nothing to do with approving this matter, it would be the board of zoning appeals.

Commission member Neill Schultz said he likes the community aspect of the sign but the challenge is separating out the business aspect and the community aspect of it.

“From the non-profit side, we have print and radio, but this would be a shiny way of advertising for non-profits. When people come in from out of state, this would be something shiny that would attract their attention,” said commission member Brandon Frazier.

No related action was required or taken by the commission.

In other business, the commission re-elected Towner, chairman; Schultz, vice chairman; and Nunn, secretary.

Sebra indicated that the terms for Smith and Schultz are expiring. Both said they would be happy to continue.

The commission will next meet on  October 2.


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