City ordinances on advertising signs
$400 – wasted. Business owners say that’s the result of being told to take signs down. An ordinance in Union City, Tennessee says business signs have to stay ‘on site’. But business owners say the ordinance sets them up for failure.
Businesses on First Street in the Union City’s downtown district is flanked by concrete. Shops say they don’t have the advertising opportunities they need while the city says its for their own good.
But small business owners are concerned what this could mean for the city’s future.
There is a lot of traffic on First Street, but many businesses are closing or moving. And the city is shutting down their advertising efforts. Allen Bridges with A-Z Furniture says his store has suffered for years, so he’s leaving downtown, “How can I get people to come in and shop the store if you can’t put up a sign on the side of the road.”
A final effort before relocating, Bridges tried an avenue other business owners before him have tried: yard signs. He says he put them out all over Reelfoot Avenue, and generated quite a bit of foot traffic. But the city ordinances said the only avenue he could post signs was in front of his storefront, “I don’t think it’s right people at yard sales put the signs out but I’m a businessman and I pay taxes.”
Union City’s Code Enforcer Jim Temple says the ordinances do not allow for ‘off-site’ signage. He says they’re protect the city and its businesses from out-of-town advertisers. Temple says, “Unfortunately it does cover the businesses here as far as being able to go out and spread signage.”
Temple says Bridges’ situation is preventable, “If they would check with us first so it makes it so much easier to inform them on the front end.”
But Bridge’s bigger concern is the future for businesses downtown, “They’re going to have to get something to build the business is up around this area or the main drag in town this is going to die out.”
The city says considering the close knit nature of the downtown district, they have to restrict the number and placement of signage.
The city ordinances do not apply to posting the signs in the county.