Thursday, March 20, 2008

Might Every LED Sign Violate the Metro Code Already?

An Enclave commenter writes:
If you check the present Metro Code carefully, one might have a strong argument that every LED sign already in Nashville is illegal. A neighbor who attended this meeting told me they overheard the director of the Planning Department make that exact statement after this meeting.
Hmm. I don't have time at the moment to read the entire text of the Metro Sign Regulations, but if the comment is true, then this is something to consider. If anyone else knows those regs well or if anyone has a chance to read them before I do, please add your interpretation to the comments section of this post.

If Planning Director Rick Bernhardt did in fact make that statement, then that would seem to belie everything CM Charlie Tygard has insinuated about him being one of the "authors" of the LED bill.


  1. Read the text in the revision of Tygrad's LED sign bill to be heard before the Planning Commission Thursday, March 27th. These passages are included in the Planning Staff reviewers notes.

    "As written, the bill adds provisions to subsection G to require the display of an electronic sign to remain static for eight seconds and requires a transition between displays of less than two seconds. The bill would also add a prohibition for digital billboards that are less than 2,000 feet apart from one another.

    Because of the conflicting language in subsections G and H of the current Code, it is unclear whether digital billboards currently are permitted. Under this ordinance, they would be permitted so long as they comply with the amended provisions of subsection G."

    The notes continue...

    "The Zoning Administrator has indicated that the Codes Department considers electronic signs and billboards to be illegal under the current Metro Code sign provisions because, in application, most such signs violate the provisions of subsection H in the current law, which prohibits signs with “lights or illuminations that flash, move, rotate, scintillate, blink, flicker or vary in intensity or color.” This bill proposes to permit digital signs and digital billboards like those recently erected along I-65 near 100 Oaks Mall, I-24 westbound in Hermitage, and elsewhere in Metro. According to the Zoning Administrator, all of these digital signs and billboards are on private property, except Metro’s convention center sign which is on public property. Those signs erected with a valid Metro permit were approved with the explicit statement that such signs were not to be digital. The proposed bill would clarify that digital billboards are allowed so long as the display message remains static or fixed for 8 seconds or more, the transition time between messages is two seconds or less, and digital billboards are spaced a minimum of 2,000 feet apart.

    STAFF RECOMMENDATION Staff recommends disapproval of the bill as drafted because electronic signs would be permitted without adequately safeguarding Nashville’s neighborhoods. When the Zoning Code’s sign provisions were adopted by the Metro Council in the early 1990’s, electronic signs did not exist. That said, the Planning Department does not believe the Zoning Code was intended to be interpreted to permit such signs now or in the future. The provisions of Section 17.32.050.G and H are broad enough to encompass this latest sign technology, and they expressly prohibit it. "

    As the Planning Staff notes reveal, we have elctronic digital billboards in Nashville that are illegal. Who has issued permits for these signs? Why were they allowed if illegal? Is this another Codes Administrator giving himself the ultimate power and a supporting councilman changing the laws to cover his tracks? Where does Bobby Joslin stand in all of this?

    Wasn't it Joslin who came to the rescue when a certain Codes Administrator was about to lose his job for issueing a permit to tear down the historic home in Madison for a Home Depot? Isn't it Joslin who gave money to so many council campaigns? Isn't it Joslin who stands to rake up the cash on these deals?

    The citizens of Nashville need to call on Mayor Dean, the former Public Defender, to defend the public and remove Codes Administrators who issue illegal permits. No more chances. No more laws issued to cover illegal activity.

    The people have said NO to the LED signs and now may have a chance to say NO to digital billboards too. Clean up the city. Take them down.

    Citizens, speak up and tell them NO!! Then let's watch who on the Planning Commission and the Council votes against the people and in support of the cash cows.

  2. hey mike

    where do I go to find out who my councilperson is?

  3. Go to the Council website. If you don't know your district number, there is also a map link you can click on to find it.