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City tightens rules on electronic signs

The Hendersonville City Council voted to dim electronic signs and make sure that messages don't jump around, rotate, swivel or scroll more often than once every 8 seconds.


As requests for signs increased and some motorists and neighboring property owners expressed concerns about them, the council adopted a moratorium on new electronic signs and directed the Development Assistance Department to study how other cities regulate them and make recommendations. The Planning Board, a planning subcommittee and the city Business Advisory Committee reviewed and endorsed a set of regulations the staff recommended.

City planners said there are 25 in the commercial zones where they’re allowed — Spartanburg Highway, Asheville Highway and U.S. 64 East. The changes:

• Allow an animated sign to take up half the total space of a 70-square-foot sign, or 35 square feet, roughly the size of a standard sheet of plywood.
• Images may not flash, animate or scroll when they transition from one message to the next.
• Transitions can last no longer than three-tenths of a second.
• Brightness can be no greater than 500 nits (a measure of light) at night and 5,000 nits during the day.
• An animated sign within 100 feet of a residential zone could operate only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The signs can change images no more frequently than every 8 seconds, a fairly common length of time among cities that regulate animated signs. Planner Tyler Morrow presented the findings of his research of nearby cities. Mills River requires messages to remain fixed for at least 8 seconds and allows an animated sign to cover 40 percent of the surface total. Laurel Park allows only time and temperature signs. Flat Rock bars them. The western Piedmont town of Conover has strict limits, capping the nighttime brightness at 150 nits (compared to the more common 500) and allowing the message to change after 5 minutes.
The changes apply to newly permitted signs only, not existing ones.