It was all about signs at last night’s meeting of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen – specifically, the size and placement of signs on a business wanting to relocate to downtown.
Brandon Crume’s RE/MAX Results Realty bought the property located at 201 North Trenton and is remodeling it to suit his needs. Crume’s family has been in the local property and real estate business for many years.
Formerly, the location was a restaurant.
Crume wanted to install a 32 ft/sq sign hanging over the sidewalk that is fashioned in the familiar RE/MAX balloon logo. According to the Planning and Zoning department, a 16 ft/sq sign is the largest allowed.
The larger sign, said Crume, is necessary to attract the attention of motorists.
Crume’s attorney, Chris Bowman, noted that North Trenton is a major U. S. Highway.
“I don’t think that the council can ignore that this is a main US highway thoroughfare that you have 17 thousand cars passing on every day,” said Bowman. He added, “Certainly owners of businesses should be allowed to advertise to that market.”
Planning Administrator Pat Doanne said such a large sign is not pedestrian oriented, which is what downtown is geared toward.
Said Doanne, “Our historic downtown has a much lower speed limit and its intended to be pedestrian oriented rather than automobile oriented.”
Long-time Ruston businessman Greg McCarter made perhaps the most cogent point when he noted that he has at times considered moving his business downtown, but after trying to help Crume on this issue, he now has second thoughts about such a move.
Said McCarter, “I’ve entertained the idea many times myself of moving my office downtown.” He added, “I don’t think under the restrictions that have been placed here, that my insurance/investment company would meet any of the codes to move downtown.”
The board of aldermen voted unanimously to uphold planning and zonning’s recommendation to allow a conditional use permit for the business, but limit sign size to 16 ft/sq.
Last night’s meeting brought into sharp relief the age-old conflict between private property rights and zoning law. Zoning is land use planning that designates permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another. Zoning may regulate use, building height, lot coverage, and similar characteristics, or some combination of these.
It basically allows government to tell a property owner what he can and can’t do with his own property.
The trade-off for loss of freedom is what proponents claim is an esthetically developed area that looks pleasing or has some historic value. Often these areas are little more than the dreams of those who have no clue as to how wealth and prosperity are created, and usually resemble the fanciful renderings seen on the pages of Architectural Digest. Proponents visualize a downtown that is circa 1954, with everyone walking or using public transportation and the use of automobiles is minimized – something that will never be again, no matter how hard the collectivists wish it to be.
Ruston 21 is this area’s version of that utopia.
Also, contrast yesterday afternoon’s press conference announcing a new business coming to Ruston that was attended by numerous political dignitaries.
The new business is showered with incentives, grants, and glowing press coverage heralding its arrival.
The established Ruston business is encumbered with endless red tape just to remodel a building and put up a sign.