Council approves 'stick figure' signs for local businesses

Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 1:00pm

Lost in the noise over the approval of a $1.52 billion budget, the Metro Council on Tuesday authorized businesses in commercially zoned districts to erect inflatable “stick people” for advertising purposes.

Previously, the towering publicity tools — frequently made to look like smiling cartoon characters and often found in front of used-car lots — violated a Metro zoning code that prohibits signs susceptible to pressure by wind.

Councilman Darren Jernigan, who represents Old Hickory and parts of Hermitage, proposed an ordinance to eliminate the restriction after one of his constituents was forced to take down her inflatable figure down. The bill passed by a 24-15 margin.

“With the economy right now, small businesses are doing everything they can to get people in the doors,” Jernigan said. “I don’t see any harm with that type of signage.”

Under the new law, inflatable figures are to not exceed 20 feet, can’t be placed less than 1,000 feet from residences and must be taken inside during night hours. Only one inflatable stick person is permitted for each property.

Despite approval of the ordinance, inflatable figures won’t be permitted on all corridors. Some areas and streets, such as Green Hills and Gallatin Pike in East Nashville, have overlays that protect the neighborhoods from such signs. 

In addition, because of a last-minute amendment thrown in by Councilman Phil Claiborne, inflatable advertising figures are not allowed on Lebanon Road, as well as McGavock, Elm Hill Pike and Donelson pikes.