Sunday, October 02, 2011

Owners say sign ordinance may push them out of business.


Some Milton business owners say the city's sign ordinances could put them out of business.

Decals that said "groomer" and a sandwich sign out in front of Robin Colletti's “Dog Wash Café” have attracted customers, and Colletti said they've also attracted city inspectors.

"We had a sign sitting out front and we received a warning that we could no longer put that out there,” Colletti told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.

Milton’s sign ordinance doesn’t allow businesses to put anything in their windows in the Crabapple and Birmingham Crossroads historic areas. Businesses outside those areas are allowed to put signs in the windows, but they can’t exceed 5 percent of the window’s space.

“It puts us at a great disadvantage because quite a lot of our traffic is from drive-by and walk-by,” said Colletti, who also operates a store in Alpharetta. “Businesses are having problems as is in this economy. You take away a major marketing tool, such as the window decals, they’re putting all small businesses in trouble.”
Robyn MacDonald, a Milton city planner, said the ordinances were written to preserve the city’s aesthetic look.

“I think the initiative of the city council was to have a beautiful city,” she said.

MacDonald said the city was already working to tweak the ordinance when it heard from several concerned business owners.

Tuesday night, the city’s planning commission held a public hearing to get input from the business community about a potential compromise.

“We want to give them what they need to operate their businesses, but at the same time, not go overboard,” she said.

MacDonald said the issue would go before Milton’s City council in November.

Colletti said she was hopeful the council would loosen the laws. Otherwise, she said she’d have no other choice but to close up shop and move.

“Allow us to keep what we have,” she said. “We don’t have any desire to add anything.”

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