Millville aims for 'happy medium' on signage compliance

Millville Town Council heard and saw firsthand about the town’s issue with non-conforming signage at a lengthy workshop last week that included a PowerPoint presentation showing pictures of how many of the signs in the town do not conform to standards.

In June of this year, Town Administrator Debbie Botchie and Code Enforcement Official Eric Evans presented the council with a draft of amendments to Article XI, Sign Regulations. Over the course of several months, the two have worked with Planning & Zoning commissioners to clarify the sign regulations.

They presented the council with more changes and the PowerPoint presentation last week in an effort to educate them on the magnitude of the issue. Botchie said they hope to present the draft to council at their regular August council meeting for discussion and possible approval.

At a meeting last summer, Botchie had discussed some of the issues with the current sign ordinance, as it is written.

“The land-use codes — the new ones — were not adopted until 2007. Prior to that, the Giant shopping center was put in, the Food Lion shopping center was put in. And all of the signs at that time, under the old code, were also non-conforming,” said Botchie at that time, noting that each business is allowed, under town code, one square foot of signage per linear foot of road frontage.

“In 2009, our code stated that [the Town] can actually go to the businesses and say, ‘Your sign is non-conforming. You now have to change to conform to the code.’ Well, 98 percent of the town was non-conforming.”

Last month, she said some of the suggestions that they have put in the amendment will address those concerns and give businesses a “happy medium” if they should need to replace their existing signs. Other highlights include addressing political signs, flags, wall signs and projection signs, adding a “definitions” section and changing language in places where it was not clear.

This week, she said the work they have done on the ordinance “makes more sense.” Botchie and Evans highlighted the current regulations and the changes for the council with the PowerPoint presentation so they can better visualize the possible amendments.

Botchie said that, sometime after the ordinance is passed, they hope to host a “businessperson workshop” so business owners can get a better feel of how, and if, the new ordinance will affect them.