Council takes stand against billboards

Published 12:10 am Thursday, May 11, 2023

Clemmons moves forward with changes to different sections of zoning ordinance

Even before Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting, a public notice had been sent out about the town receiving a lot of questions regarding billboards on Lewisville-Clemmons Road.
In the announcement released by the town, it was stated: “The Village of Clemmons has taken action by rewriting the ordinance to provide more clarity to all the rules regarding signs. The ordinance revision includes a clear ban on all off-premise billboard type signs.”
It became official in the meeting, which included a public hearing, with the council ultimately voting to approve to amend multiple sections in Chapter A and Chapter B of United Development Ordinances (Zoning Docket UDO-89).
The question posed in the communication last Thursday from Clemmons asked: “Why did you approve the new billboard on Lewisville-Clemmons Road?”
What followed was an explanation from the village in the statement: “In June 2019, a company called Visible Properties applied to the Village of Clemmons for a permit to set up a digital billboard. Clemmons denied the sign permit, and the request was then presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for approval. The Zoning Board denied the permit, Visible sued, and a trial judge upheld Clemmons’ decision in December 2020. Visible Properties appealed the decision and despite Clemmons’ rigorous argument against the digital billboard, the appellate judges ruled in favor of Visible Properties. The two billboards on Lewisville-Clemmons Road were applied for and permitted due to the court order and renovation stipulations.”
During Monday night’s meeting, where there was one public comment against billboards and seven digital comments from the public also expressing their opposition, planner Doug Moore explained to the council that the text amendment included different sections within the zoning ordinance that are requiring modification as part of the update of the sign ordinance.
“The ordinance before you takes care of all of those modifications,” Moore said. “It’s basically coming in and reorganizing and trying to simplify to make the code easier to work with and understand.”
Gil Davis was the only person to speak during the public hearing, saying he wasn’t even sure he was opposed but also not sure he understood it.
Davis went through parts of the text, taking issue with some of the wording and wanted to see some things get “cleaned up.”
Moore agreed that he did see there was “an area that does seem to be conflict is something we can fix.” He added that he and the town attorney, Al Benshoff, could get together and take care of some minor adjustments in the language.
Several council members weighed in with Bradley Taylor saying, “I’ll just say thank you Mr. Davis for pointing out that our UDO was very confusing before, which is why we’re trying to clarify it in a lot of different ways.”
Council member Mike Combest said, “Mr. Davis made some great points, and my understanding is we can get this thing done in a month. My recommendation is to approve it now and with all urgency make the changes recommended.”
Then council member Chris Wrights added, “I think we have to go ahead and approve it tonight with the moratorium getting ready to hit because if we wait a month, there are going to be several more requests for more billboards on Lewisville-Clemmons Road.”
Taylor made the motion, which was approved unanimously.
In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Continued Zoning Docket (C-252) of real property owned by AAA Storage Management #28 LLC from GB-S to GB-S (General Business – Special) at 2225 Lewisville-Clemmons Road with 2.768 acres to the next meeting on May 22 after hearing from proponent Chad Hockaday in the public hearing to get clarity on conditions and the process of using one truck on the property instead of five rental trucks as was initially proposed. The Planning Board had recommended approval while the staff recommendation was denial based on the intensity of the proposed motor vehicle rental or leasing use and its incompatibility with adjacent land uses.
• Approved Zoning Docket (C-253) of real property owned by Bing-Merr Properties LLC from LO-S to PB-S (Pedestrian Business – Special) at 3725 and 3729 Clemmons Road with 2.93 acres after a public hearing where only proponent Paul Fidishun spoke in favor. Moore said that the staff worked with the applicant to limit uses and that there were no changes with the parking or buildings, and that the current proposal was for a hair salon. The Planning Board and staff both had recommended approval.
• Approved Zoning Docket UDO-88 to amend multiple sections in Chapter B of the Unified Development Ordinances.
• Held a special meeting to have a budget workshop prior to the council meeting.
• Approved Resolution 2023-R-03 authorizing the advertisement for the sale of municipal property utilizing the upset bid process. This was in reference to the decision made in the previous meeting to put a property at 2848 Harper Road, which the village purchased more than 15 years ago and tried unsuccessfully to sell in the last couple of years, back on the market again.
• Heard from Mike Gunnell in the manager’s report regarding a proposal from LJB Inc.
to do some design services to replace the culvert on Parkdale Drive as part of the CIP (Capital Improvement Program).
• Heard from council member Mary Cameron who said that there were 90 volunteers who picked up 59 bags of trash on last Saturday’s Clemmons Community Cleanup Day with the Key Club, Kiwanis Club and the Civics Club represented.
• Heard from Shannon Ford, marketing and communications director, who said that there were between 4,000 and 5,000 people from the two events – Clemmons Community Day and Clemmons Farmers Market – on Saturday, April 29, and then 749 customers for last Saturday’s Clemmons Farmers Market.