Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco takes aim at feather banners

DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners have pushed back a vote until July 22 on whether to outlaw "feather banners," those fluttering temporary signs used by businesses to announce grand openings and sales.

Commissioners were set to vote on the ban June 24, but on Tuesday opted to push back the measure after the Tampa Bay Builders Association told them that an all-out ban would cripple business.

"We don't want to see tattered signs. We agree with you on that," Jennifer Doerfel, the association's executive vice president, told commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday. "But we have to be able to attract buyers to our homes."

Doerfel said the fluttering signs help prospective home buyers locate new housing developments not found on maps or GPS devices. And unlike traditional retailers, "We don't have model centers right on the highway," she said.

"They're critical to our business," added Mike Southward, president of Beazer Homes' Tampa division.

The delay will allow time for county staff and builders to work out a compromise.

Several commissioners expressed reluctance to endorse an all-out ban on the signs because they help businesses.

Southward said marketing studies show that home buyers will check local schools and neighborhoods, then drive to those neighborhoods to look for suitable homes. Without the signs, he said, their developments are practically invisible from the highway.

Plus, said Doerfel, Pasco's code enforcement rules aren't clear on what alternatives are permitted in lieu of the banners. She said she doesn't want builders to choose an alternative then get slapped with a zoning violation.

"Over time, the regulations have become more restrictive," she said.

In general, Doerfel said, the builders want the signs to stay, at least during daylight hours, but in absence of that they want clear guidelines on the kind of signs that would be permitted.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey complained that the banners have popped up in large numbers over the years across Pasco. She suggested that in some cases directional signs could replace the banners.

Last month, the county's Development Review Committee recommended to county commissioners that they be banned.

Rich Shopes can be reached [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

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