BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL — After three public hearings about electronic signs drew little response from the public, city staffers reached out to the Clipper as a way to get a feel for what Bountiful residents want.
The commission has since heard from people who want the signs and from some who don’t, but after yet another public hearing on Tuesday, commissioners were no closer to agreeing on a recommendation for city council.
They will bring the issue back in a work session to discuss where the signs might be appropriate, what restrictions or curfews they should require and how much oversight the city should have.
The signs in question resemble the one at the Walgreens at 500 West and 500 South, or those used by public high schools. They portray messages using a complicated series of blinking lights, and new technology makes their capabilities and resolution more advanced than ever. The signs are allowed in “heavy commercial” zones along 500 West, but haven’t been allowed at other businesses.
Some question whether they are right for Bountiful. Business professional Kathleen Bailey, a Bountiful resident, gathered signatures on a petition and sat through three hours of Tuesday’s meeting for her chance to speak.
“This is not the direction that business is going,” she said. “I think before long, I’ll be able to walk by or drive by a business and I’ll be able to get a coupon to my cell phone.”
She also said the signs are distracting, and a person who sent a letter to the city cited studies saying the same. A third commenter said his wife had been in a rear-end crash because the other driver had been reading an electric sign.
In previous public hearings, a representative from Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) addressed the commission. He told about studies that found the signs are safe, people at the meeting said.
Gordon Holbrook of Gordon Copy Print is one business that wants a sign. The print shop is located on 400 North and about 100 West, and his existing sign visible from houses, but not adjacent to any.
“My business is advertising and graphic design and I’m just trying to build my business,” Holbrook told the council. “I’m just trying to put a sign that I don’t have to go change the letters in the cold and ice.”
His sign, if approved, would be the same size as his existing sign.
“I just want to finish my (remodel) project and stay alive,” Holbrook said. “That’s all I want to do, and it’s been a tough go lately.”
Bountiful resident Jane Leloudis spoke in favor of the signs.
“I want to see the specials,” she said. “I think Bountiful should modernize. I think it’s just common sense.”
The hearing regarding electronic signs didn’t start until 9:30 p.m., long after the 6 p.m. meeting started. After hearing from about 10 residents who stuck it out, the commission discussed the signs. Chairman Tom Smith said he wants to do what the majority of people in the city want, but isn’t sure what that is. Others also want to do what’s best for the city in terms of supporting businesses, the said.
Bountiful Councilmember Tom Tolman, a well-known historian and columnist for the Clipper, is a friend of Holbrook’s and is in favor of the signs.
“It’s not Las Vegas, it’s just trying to get the word out,” he said of electronic signs in general. “Let’s be progressive.”
Tolman, along with Smith and city planner Aric Jensen, attended a seminar with YESCO a year ago about the signs, Tolman said. YESCO was not at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I think we just need to reach a happy medium,” Tolman said. “I’m just trying to help the businesspeople.”