LED sign discussion continues at Stanford council meeting

By Kayla Lasure
Contributing Writer

STANFORD – Emotions ran high at a Stanford City Council meeting last week as two local business owners defended their stores’ digital LED signs once again.

A nuisance complaint was served by letter to the the owners recently concerning the brightness and flashing of their business signs. Merle Miracle, owner of Hilltop Florist, and Dillon Roberts, owner of Ruff to Pawfect Pet Salon, came in front of the council Nov. 3 to try to resolve the issue.

“When I put this sign up, I didn’t know what to do,” Miracle said. “I come to the city, asking what to do. I wouldn’t have sunk $22,000 if I didn’t get the sign approved.”

Miracle said he had brought his sign proposal two-and-a-half years ago to Bill Miracle, the previous mayor. Documentation of Stanford planning and zoning meeting minutes had said the sign was approved in April 2015, he added.

However, according to the members of the city council, the sign was not approved through the proper channels, unbeknownst to Miracle.

“One group of people don’t know what the other group’s doing,” Miracle said. “You have to go to 14 groups of people before you feel comfortable doing something.”

While the seats inside the L&N Depot are rarely full during council meetings, this meeting left none empty as the issue garnered a full house. In the crowd, one man who filed the nuisance complaint, Victor Carpenter, spoke about why it was filed.

Carpenter lives on the corner of Maxwell and Lancaster streets, next to the two businesses. He said the light from the signs shine right into his home, keeping his wife, who recently suffered a stroke, up at night.

“I’m asking personally, for my wife and me,” Carpenter said. “We sleep in that room, we don’t sleep in the rest of the house. She doesn’t sleep with the flashing. As you drive up the street from Durham’s, you have flashing in your eyes that’s just as bad as car headlights.”

Carpenter said all he’s asking from Miracle and Roberts are that they run the signs and lights during reasonable hours.
Roberts has already signed a written agreement saying that he will turn his smaller LED sign off from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Both Miracle and Roberts are scheduled to appear before the board of adjustments for hearings regarding requests for variances.

However, Miracle said he’ll comply with the restricted hours until he can take it to district court.

Miracle’s concern lies with the safety of his business. He said since having the sign it has deterred break-ins and drug-related acts around his business at night because his parking lot is lit up.

Councilman Ronnie Deatherage and others said they will look into getting more street lights in the area.

Roberts asked if the council was now going to look into other business that should follow the same sign guidelines.

City Attorney Chris Reed answered Roberts by explaining how difficult that would be given their position in legislature.
“We can’t go around and investigate crime,” Reed said. “Much like a county attorney, for example, the county attorney’s not out in a police cruiser looking for people, he has to respond to complaints that come in. We’re in the same position.”

Reed went on to tell Roberts that the council can deal with complaints as they come in and apologized that their signs happened to be the first ones in the new ordinance initiative.

As Councilman Scottie Ernst explained, Hilltop Florist and Ruff to Pawfect are in a residential and commercial zone – meaning they must comply to residential and commercial zones. Whereas businesses such as Dairy Queen and the Trading Post are in commercial zones and follow a different set of ordinances. Ermst said.

“We’re going to have to address it moving forward,” Carter said.

Ernst said the two business signs will be grandfathered in once the council decides on an ordinance.