Columbus Town Council approves sign policy change and more

Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2014

By Claire Sachse

At the Columbus Town Council meeting held Sept. 18, councilmembers approved changes to the zoning ordinance and brush policy, heard an economic development report by Robert Williamson, and discussed the possibility of changing a street name.

All council members were present, including Joshua Denton, Margaret Metcalf, Richard Hall and Ricky McAllister, as well as Mayor Eric McIntyre.

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Section 154.112(K)(3) of the town’s zoning ordinance pertains to the usage of temporary signs by for-profit businesses for promotional purposes. Council voted unanimously to amend the zoning ordinance by restricting the time period to display promotional signs to 30 days in a calendar year.

The ordinance as adopted now states, “Signs for promotional purposes by an individual for profit business may be displayed on their premises and for a period not to exceed 30 days in a calendar year. Replacing one temporary sign with a different temporary sign is allowed, but will not restart the 30 day count.”

At the Aug. 21 council meeting, Councilwoman Metcalf had raised the issue of businesses displaying temporary signs on a regular basis throughout the year. After discussion, council asked Interim Town Manager Timothy Barth to present an amendment, at the September council meeting, to the zoning ordinance reflecting the 30-day restriction.

Town Council also adopted a change to the Brush Policy after discussion about how the Public Works Department handles debris pickup after the clearing of lots or large areas.

The amendments to the Brush Policy, as voted on unanimously, now allow the town manager final discretion as to whether Public Works will make the pickup, and if so, determine fees for collection and disposal.

Robert Williamson, Polk County’s interim economic development director, presented a report on the projected economic impact of the Tryon International Equestrian Center on the area. At a four-day event held at the center in July, Williamson estimates that the 2,000 attendees translated to a $900,000 economic impact on the area.

The build-out on the 1,400 acre property will take three to five years, according to Williamson, leading to an ongoing need for construction and construction-related services. Although two hotels are planned, the immediate area is at a “deficit” for lodging, he said. Williamson also noted that the influx of people will create opportunities from the agri-tourism perspective.

Town Council also heard public comments from Ernie Kan and Shelby Harris regarding a request by emergency services personnel, discussed at the Aug. 21 council meeting, to rename Hampton Street to avoid confusion with Hampton Court. Hwy. 74 bisects the streets. Kan said she had spoken with her neighbors and they felt an appropriate alternative would be Morgan Drive. Harris said that she has lived on the Hampton St. for 40 years and does not think a name change is necessary.

Marche Pittman, Polk’s interim county manager, offered to have Bobby Arledge, emergency management coordinator, speak to council in October about how the emergency response for those two streets is handled. Town Council took no action on street renaming.

In other business, Town Council voted to approve the submission a technical assistance grant request in order to have a study completed on the town’s water storage and wells. Council also read a letter from Melissa Bridgeman concerning a lack of available parking spaces downtown. Interim Town Manager Tim Barth reported that the wastewater treatment plant is complete.