Bluffton business owners offered way to advertise without violating ordinance

gsmith@islandpacket.comFebruary 14, 2013 

The town of Bluffton is sponsoring a directional sign program as a solution to Old Town businesses requesting ways to advertise without violating the town's sign ordinance.

Businesses can now apply to be a part of this program on a first-come, first serve basis.

"We want to be partners in the success of our local merchants," said Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka in a statement. "This program offers a partnership in their success while keeping the historic district safe and aesthetically pleasing."

Bluffton relaxed its rules on temporary business signs in 2009 to help shops struggling through the economic downturn.

But in August, the town again began enforcing its rules, which ban some signs outright and requires a permit for others.

More than 150 illegal signs were collected during "sign sweeps" in August and September, and violation letters were sent to 26 businesses. Since then, the town says 19 of the violations have been cleared up.

The new program seeks to find a balance between businesses' needs and the town ordinance.

The town will erect and maintain sign panels at various locations throughout and adjacent to the historic district. The proposed locations for directional signs include the intersections of Calhoun and Lawrence streets and the corner of Calhoun and Lawton streets. Town staff will consider other locations based on feedback from business owners.

The program is available to businesses that have a current business license and no outstanding code violations.

Each business approved for the program will pay an initial cost of $250. Each year afterwards, the business will pay an annual renewal fee of $75.

The program is for the businesses located in the historic district of Bluffton. The district includes all businesses west of the intersection of Bruin and Burnt Church streets to east of S.C. Highway 46 (also known as May River Road) and the Stock Farm Development (also known as The Village of Stock Farm). The southern boundary of the historic District is the May River and the northern boundary extends to Dr. Mellichamp Drive.

For more information about how to apply for the directional sign program, contact Dawn Goodwin in the town's Business License Office at 843-706-4501 or email her at dgoodwin@townofbluffton.com.

The application for the program is available at Town Hall, 20 Bridge Street or on the town's website, www.townofbluffton.sc.gov.

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