Just when it looked like the battle over whether to allow special exemptions for the placement of LED signs in residential neighborhoods would finally be settled, it appears stakeholders will have to wait.
Sponsors of two competing amendments — establishing different standards for Light Emitting Diode signs — intend to defer their bills indefinitely, Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, one of the bills’ authors, has confirmed. The Metro Planning Commission was scheduled to weigh in on the matter at its Thursday meeting.
“We are both going to defer our bills tomorrow to give an opportunity for us to get together and talk some more about it,” Holleman said. “I don’t think that at the end of the day it’s possible to reach complete agreement, but we might reach some points we can agree on.”
Currently, Metro prohibits the placement of Light Emitting Diode signs in areas less than 100 feet from any agriculturally or residentially zoned properties, but churches, schools and other community facilities have sought LED message boards — like the bright signs often found outside commercial drug stores — to advertise events and services.
On their behalf, At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard and Councilman Jim Gotto had put forth a proposal that would create a new zoning overlay district, adopting a process to consider LED signs in residential areas on a case-by-case basis.
But the planning department staff recommended disapproval of their amendment, maintaining “from a land use perspective, electronic display signs are not appropriate in residentially- and agriculturally-zoned areas.”
Meanwhile, an amendment proposed by Holleman — which the planning department endorsed — would prohibit LED signs in residential areas altogether, while going further in scope to create specific standards for future electronic display signs in commercial, office and mixed-use zoning districts — areas where LED signs are already allowed.
Feedback from Nashvillians has indicated overwhelming support for Holleman’s legislation, according to planning department spokesperson Craig Owensby, as 142 citizens have offered comments to the department favoring the more stringent LED sign restrictions, with just one individual voicing support for a move to allow exemptions for electronic signs in residential neighborhoods.
Holleman said he envisions the LED issue coming back in three separate bills: one bill that is fully agreed upon, and two others that outline the two different approaches.