Without an electronic message, the sign outside of Culver’s in Spring Hill is hard to see in the dark. // Photo by Matt Blois
By MATT BLOIS
The board for the Spring Hill’s Chamber of Commerce has suggested modifying a proposed set of rules that would regulate development to allow some kinds of electronic signs and some billboards along Saturn Parkway.
The proposed unified development code would only allow billboards on Interstate 65, and prohibits most electronic signs. But in their letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen the chamber’s board wrote that those ideas might merit further consideration.
The owner of the Culver’s in Spring Hill, Russell Glass, has installed an electronic message that he isn’t using right now. Next week, the restaurant will hosted a night to raise money for Vanderbilt Hospital, but he said it’s hard to spread the word without a message board.
“I don’t want my neighbors to look like Las Vegas, and I don’t want to,” he said. “But I don’t believe the technology is the problem. I believe the management of the technology is the problem.”
When the city started the process of creating the unified development code it sent out a survey to get a sense of what residents wanted. One of the questions asked whether residents would like to see electronic signs, and many residents indicated that they didn’t want them.
Glass pointed out that if had the city asked whether residents wanted to Spring Hill to look like Las Vegas almost everyone would have certainly said no. But if the city had asked whether they wanted to help promote local businesses, the response would have been different.
Ike Wingate owns an advertising company and he’s a member of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. He told the Planning Commission that the current language doesn’t consider how things like billboards can help local businesses.
“Currently we have a … highway with 30,000 vehicles every single day, and we’re not capturing any of those,” he said. “As Saturn Parkway becomes more of a roadway for our area we have more of an opportunity to drive business into Spring Hill where we can collect those sales tax dollars.”
The chamber’s letter suggests allowing billboards to be placed every 2,000 feet on the same side of the road, and every 1,000 feet on opposite sides of the road. The board wrote that the height should be capped at 50 feet. It also suggested requiring businesses to get a permit from the Tennessee Department of Transportation before putting up a billboard.
Alderman Vincent Fuqua added that while it is a good idea to support local business, it’s also important not to go overboard. He said that the Planning Commission should look at communities that have good signage and emulate that.