City officials hear complaints about new sign ordinance

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WARREN -- City council members heard from several local business owners who say the city's new sign ordinance makes it difficult and expensive for them to compete against businesses in other communities.

Council members said they sympathize with the complaints and offered hope that variances could be approved that might let them resume using advertising banners that are now only permitted for 30-day periods.

Paul Makosky, city director of engineering, planning and building, said the law department may object if variances allow the ordinance to be applied differently to different types of businesses.

"I think Youngstown Road looks a lot better, but I understand all ordinances can be adjusted," Mayor Doug Franklin said. Youngstown Road was the first place where city officials began to enforce the new ordinance, forcing property owners to remove signs that some believe made the city look "tacky," according to the mayor.

One of the goals of the ordinance was to prevent business owners from posting numerous signs that frequently advertised the same product.

"The better it is for Warren, the better it is for your business," said Councilman Eddie Colbert.

But Diane Sauer, owner of the Diane Sauer Chevrolet dealership, said the ordinance prevents her from having banners that are found at auto dealers all along U.S. Route 224 in Mahoning County.

"It puts us at a competitive disadvantage," she said.

And allowing her to use such banners for only 30 days means she has spent thousands of dollars on a banner to use it only 30 days.

One business owner said he thinks Youngstown Road looks nicer, but "I've seen more vacant storefronts since this started."

One reason the sign ordinance was enacted was because the Poggemeyer study recommended it as one way to improve the city, Franklin said.

Greg Dulia, onwer of Auto Trenz on Youngstown Road said the banners at his business tell potential customers all of the products and services his business provides, something that he doesn't believe a standard business sign can do as well.


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