Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco County keeps ban on LED animated signs

DADE CITY — County commissioners on Tuesday voted to continue the county's ban on animated signs like LED message boards.

The prohibition has been in place since 2002, but the issue resurfaced Tuesday amid discussion that such eye-catching signs might help some retailers.

"I think something like that will help our businesses without being a blight," said Commissioner Jack Mariano, adding it might help a store test out a new product for only a short time.

Calling such a move a "major policy change," senior county planner Carol Clarke said the idea needed a more analysis. She estimated it would take several months for her team to present commissioners with well-considered options.

Pasco's restrictions apply to any electronic sign that can change color or appearance automatically. Gas stations with electronic price displays are allowed because new prices must be changed manually. Businesses that secured permits before the sign rules took effect can also have the animated signs.

Clarke said commissioners must consider how the changes would affect safety, as well as how they would fit with new urban design standards and rural areas like northeast Pasco. She pointed to Tampa, which has had trouble enforcing its ordinance that says electronic displays cannot change more than once every five minutes.

"There are other communities that have examined it and said, 'There's no way we can enforce it,' " she said.

Commissioner Ted Schrader was part of a 3-2 majority that voted to put off further changes until at least 2013. (Mariano and Commissioner Pat Mulieri dissented.)

"You remember the nice places where you go," Schrader said. "We need to make sure Pasco County does look good for the visitors that come here so they will come back."

Schrader noted that officials for Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, which is under construction, had requested such an animated sign. But he doubted the hospital would have trouble advertising since it would be Wesley Chapel's most distinctive building.

"People are going to know where that hospital is," he said.

In other news Tuesday, the Pasco County Commission:

• Gave final approval to a new cross-county bus route that would travel from the new Medical Center of Trinity to Zephyrhills City Hall. The route begins March 5 and will have 12 stops, including the Super Target near the Suncoast Parkway, the Shops at Wiregrass and The Grove at Wesley Chapel shopping center. A new bus will arrive at each stop once every two hours. The county began the new route with a five-year grant from the state Department of Transportation.

• Learned that the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday approved selling Pasco its old medical van for $25,000. The van will be used to give basic medical care to the homeless. Commissioner Pat Mulieri has collected $57,000 in pledges for the project, including money for a part-time nurse practitioner. The van will be owned by Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger.

• Approved $1.5 million worth of improvements for the intersection of Hudson Avenue and Hicks Road. The work includes adding five turn lanes, bike lanes on Hudson Avenue and more sturdy traffic signals. A sidewalk would also be extended to Veterans Memorial Park. Commissioners asked county officials to apply for grant funding under a program that pays for improvements near schools.

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