Compromise possible on LED signs

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 12:41am

An angry back-and-forth between council members and questions of the legitimacy of the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) Task Force preceded the group’s first meeting Monday, but ultimately a compromise may be coming on the lighting rod issue.

At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who formed the task force, said he would like to sit down with at-Large Councilwoman Megan Barry and Metro Zoning Administrator Sonny West to come up with an amended bill that allows religious institutions and schools not in residential areas to install LED signs like the ones seen at pharmacies.

Tygard also said the hotly contested LED sign issue, which has been met with fervent resistance from neighborhood associations across Davidson County, may be the precursor to re-working Metro’s 16-year-old sign zoning code.

Barry said she is happy to sit down with Tygard to amend his LED sign bill. Barry also said she intended to propose a memorializing resolution requesting Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors to form a task force aimed at updating all of Metro’s sign code.

“I’d like to come up with something that allows LED signs on a case-by-case basis on arterial streets and commercial districts that basically takes away the argument from residential neighborhoods,” Tygard said.

Tygard proposed a bill earlier this year that has been deferred at the Council level and disapproved by the Planning Commission. It is possible Tygard could present an amended bill to the Planning Commission, which it could then vote on again. Otherwise, Tygard’s bill will need 27 out of 40 votes by the Metro Council in order to be approved.

Initially Tygard proposed a bill that would allow LED signs for religious institutions and schools on arterial and collector streets, even when they run through residential areas. This was openly opposed by many Council members, who said their constituents don’t want the signs in neighborhoods.

After it was disapproved by Planning, Tygard formed the task force, but this was met with criticism. Barry took issue with how the task force was formed by Tygard. Barry said it should have been appointed by the vice mayor as is typically done with task forces.

Earlier this year, District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson requested Neighbors to appoint the task force for issues like a green building permit for developments in Nashville.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the Council to follow this process for the sign group as it will remove any perception that the appointees are stacked one way or the other, and I think, in the end, get to what we all desire — a frank and reasonable discussion regarding the sign ordinance,” Barry said in an email to Metro Council.

Barry’s issues with how the LED Task Force was appointed came after an contentious exchange between District 16 Councilwoman Anna Page and Tygard. Page posted a message on her District 16 listserv Web site encouraging her constituents to attend the task force meeting, “to express how we feel about our streets being lit up like Vegas!”

Tygard responded with an angry email claiming Page’s comments were out of line. Page in turn posted Tygard’s email on the listserv page.

Tygard maintains that he was not trying to go around Neighbors when he appointed the task force, which he said included input from several other council members.

“I said if they want to appoint another task force and have another public meeting that’s fine, but you’re only going to get the same complaints and the same comments,” Tygard said.

Tygard has argued that LED signs are more esthetically pleasing than the current plastic signs with removable letters often used by churches. Neighborhood associations have said LED signs are too bright and distracting for residential roads.

Tygard also said churches and schools with several events a day would benefit by being able to get their message out to as many people as possible.

Tygard’s bill also contained a section that brought Metro’s digital billboard code in line with the rest of the state. The new bill would require digital billboards to be at least 200 feet apart and to sit for eight seconds before displaying a new advertisement.

In order to ensure that portion of the bill was not defeated, at-large Councilman Ronnie Steine introduced a new bill that deals only with digital billboards.

Filed under: City News
By: imdyinhere on 12/31/69 at 6:00

LED signs are bad news. Why does Metro council want to help the LED sign industry distract drivers?

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

because Tygard and Joslin (sign company) are close friends.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Funditto, you nailed it. I guess Tygard will carry the water for Bobby Joslin now that Buck isn't on the council.

By: global_citizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I went to the planning commission hearing that sent this back to the Council unapproved. At that hearing, every single neighborhood association representative spoke out convincingly against this bill. The only ones who spoke in favor were a rep from Lamar Outdoor Advertising and one church who ostensibly wanted a digital billboard (the church representative who spoke just happened to be sitting next to Bobby Joslin at the meeting, however).It is crystal clear the people do not want this. So why is Charlie Tygard so insistent on pushing this bill to approval? His support for this has become inappropriate and obstinate. Someone needs to look into what his underlying motivation is.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It's true...Tygard is doing this for Joslin, but he is insiting it's to help a church and school get their messages out. I always manage to find my church and my childrens school, without LED signage. Why should the city change or compromise on this issue? This all started becuase of one church was denied in Bellevue - that's it! Why do we need a comprehensive change? I believe so Joslin can sell more signs. We need to get Tygard out of office. Can we recall him?

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Can we recall half of them and get the number of councilpeople down to a normal forum? They are a joke.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Everything is being written as if these signs are going to happen - why does it have to happen? Why not say , it's not going to happen, there is no compromise and send the two good ole boys of Tygard and Joslin off into LED signage heaven - Las Vegas.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Oh, like Nolensville Pike is any better! Give me a freaking break!!!! Signs everywhere!!! I'd much rather have one sign that lights up w/controlled wattage and output than the trashy look we have now! Heck, have you ever been to an event at a school or church lately? You could run over people by accident just trying to figure out where/when the events are to take place these days. I've nearly run into several cars just trying to find a small business on Nolensville, Hillsboro, and other major arteries these days. With rationality, you could limit the amount of LED sign, light output, placement, etc... where you have ZERO control over current signage. And the last time Council tried to limit signage, it was shot down! I was there, as a spouse, trying to get that bill passed. It was nasty, and people here become cozy with status quo until they're unaware of how trashy their streets and venues have become. Desensitization~ At least with the LED idea, you could circumvent some of the gross negligence going on all around us currently. Because let's face it, Gallatin Pike, Hillsboro, Nolensville.... they're just soooooo "attractive and tasteful" with their current signage. ;-)

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

girliegirl...he wants them to be allowed on over 7500 streets in Davidson county. that would include Hillwood Blvd, Belmont Blvd, Blair it's a big deal. It's not just the commerical areas you are referencing. He wants to open up basically EVERY street in Davidson County.

By: Jeremiah_29-7 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The proposed LED legislation has NOTHING to do with commercial areas such as Noelnsville Rd and Gallatin Pike. Just so you know, Gallatin Pike neighborhood gorups and council members have taken action to limit signs and detrimental uses there, with "SP" zoning. The Nolensville Road area is also considering it. So saying that the LED bill should be PASSED to hurt residential areas because commercial areas are raunchy is not only illogical, it flies in the face of the efforts being made to IMPROVE the commercial areas.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Well, I suggest you put limits on this bill, but at least ADDRESS the freaking signage crap we have now. It's so trashy, it's embarrassing for gosh sakes.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

girliegirl...he wants them to be allowed on over 7500 streets in Davidson county. that would include Hillwood Blvd, Belmont Blvd, Blair it's a big deal. It's not just the commerical areas you are referencing. He wants to open up basically EVERY street in Davidson County.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I repeat, LIMITATIONS are placed on proposed bills for a reason. It's like putting a salary cap in place. It justifies the job position w/o having to pay the dog catcher an outrageous salary later on. Last I checked, Hillwood, Belmont, and Blair are all 2 lane roads. Back to the original statement, put limitations on the signage! Hell, put limitations on all signage and forget GRANDFATHERING for gosh sakes! Frankly, Nolensville couldn't look any worse over by Thompson Ln no matter what you did to it~

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

GG: How about just read the church bulletin, the endless notes that come home from school if you need to know what's going on. We do not need more light pollution... Besides, you know those church signs will not have usefull info for church members, they'll have a weekly "inspiration" or a Bible verse. I can find those on my own thankyouverymuch.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Oh no, the sign pollution is okay... I get it! Trash city, not Music City, should be on our motto sticker. Look, you're not going to keep the LED signs out of the city, but you 'could' use their ordinance verbage to better the city you have now. I realize that this proposal is 'change' which never goes over well in NashVegas, but it could be a good start for us. Limit the signs... ALL the freakin signs, not just the LEDs. Hey, you might like it. Think of it as "Scottsdale Lite" if you want. And I'm not espousing the LEDs positive impact at all, I'm just saying you could do to this bill what Washington does on a daily basis. Pad the sucker down! Why not?! If you load it up, it'll be harder for them to utilize the LEDs, you'll clean up our streets, and make the city attractive for a change. But by golly, GET OFF THE CHURCH's getting you nowhere. It certainly doesn't impress me that you find no inspiration from their tacky plastic signage. Who would? They can put up a million flags, banners, signs and whatever else they need to do. I could care less. Now, the people needing the shelter, food, clothing might care. Hmmmm... I was just trying to make the world a better place. But go figure. Guess that's not on your agenda.

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

geez woman. get a grip. there's a coc on the corner by house and i look forward to and enjoy their plastic inspiration. i even repeat it from time to time. i wouldn't like it blinking on and off, however and don't think it's necessary.perhaps you should consider a martini? it's dark under the porch.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Someone give gga xanax!

By: J Smith on 12/31/69 at 6:00

BlueInTN,Here is the link to Metro's Charter and Code of Laws: The information on recall elections is in sections 15.06 to 15.10. I'm afraid that the requirement of 15% of metro voters on a petition may be a hurdle too large to overcome. But, if the neighborhood associations who have been irritated by Tygard's tactics could unite and start a signature drive, it may just be possible.