Digital sign given OK

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2008

People driving down Shotwell Street in downtown Bainbridge may soon see an eye-catching sign, though some neighbors aren’t happy about it.

In a 2-1 vote, the Bainbridge Historic Preservation Commission agreed to update a previously approved request from Ronnie Godwin to place a 38-square-foot, full-color digitally animated sign panel in front of his business at 400 E. Shotwell St.

Board members Clayton Penhallegon and Chris New voted for approval, while Allen Ware voted for denial.

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Six citizens publicly opposed the sign’s installation, voicing comments at the meeting or through correspondence. All essentially said their opposition was based around a desire to retain the traditional appearance of Bainbridge’s historic district and its residences. None of the four board members present Tuesday night, including Chairwoman Julie Harris, expressed support for the digital sign. However, the board’s job was to consider whether it would negatively impact the historic district, Harris said.

Godwin countered that the building his business occupies was built in the 1970s, renovated multiple times and therefore, was not historic.

The board originally gave its approval for Godwin’s plans for the digital sign in March 2007. Godwin said he decided to wait for an advance in the signs’ technology before making a purchase.

In addition to using the sign to advertise his merchandise, Godwin said he is willing to accept submissions of photos and messages from the community, which he would display free of charge—such as special occasions, congratulatory messages and other announcements.

The display will be a panel, 58 inches tall by 95 inches wide, attached to Godwin’s current sign. According to Godwin, it will be similar in appearance to one in front of DeHildren Realty, further east on Shotwell Street. According to the city’s sign ordinance, the sign would have to be turned off between 11 p.m. and dawn.

In other business, the board approved a request from Brian Barnett, 323 W. Water St., who seeks to install a six-foot wooden privacy fence along the southern and eastern property lines and at the northern section of the lot from the east side of the house.