Streets Committee debates electronic moving signs

Moving electronic signs in the city right of way was a point of contention during a meeting Wednesday of Marietta City Council’s Streets Committee.

Councilwoman Kathy Downer revisited the topic with the intention to ban moving signs within the downtown business district, stating that the signs do not match the charm of historic preservation. Council has the authority to enact a ban.

“The city controls the air above the right of way,” she said.

Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp and Councilman Geoff Schenkel asked Downer to further explain her objections to the electronic signs, which can be found on the side of the Lafayette Hotel and on the side of the First Congregational Church.

“They’re butt-ugly,” she said. “It doesn’t look historic…If we don’t put this in place then the planning commission is going to ruin the city.”

Hupp’s asked Downer how businesses investing in downtown buildings are expected to advertise their services and catch the eyes of passerby if they’re not not allowed (by current city ordinances) to hang signs perpendicular to the front of their businesses over the right of way (sidewalk) and would also not be allowed to use moving neon-colored signs.

Schenkel asked for more clear descriptions of Downer’s objections to the aesthetic moving signs before he is willing to support a legislative ban.

Council will next meet today in executive session to discuss potential hiring changes and litigation.

Council’s next regular business meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 21.

All council committee meetings take place in Room 10 of the Armory, 241 Front St. unless otherwise scheduled.