A handful of Peachtree City businesses that have been using mascots and other “sign holders” along the road are going to have to find a different marketing ploy.
Such efforts will now be limited to no more than six days a year under an ordinance approved by the City Council Thursday night.
The rules will also apply to non-profit agencies such as youth athletic teams doing car washes, which often deploy roadside signs to drum up business.
The new rules allow for a business or non-profit venture to apply for a special events permit to allow a walking sign for no more than three days at a time. Such a permit can be approved only twice per year, per the ordinance.
The ordinance also requires that the permit applicant present written permission from the property owner. Also, the walking sign can be no more than six square feet, and the sign holder must be at least 25 feet away from the curb/edge of pavement.
In addition to the strict time limit, the ordinance also requires any walking signs to be on property where the business or non-profit event is being located. That deals a blow to businesses like The Picnic Basket restaurant, which has been using a site on the corner of Ga. Highway 74 and Kelly Drive to advertise its site located further down Kelly Drive.
Picnic Basket owner Debbie Sanders said her walking sign is very effective in bringing in customers who don’t necessarily live in Peachtree City. She also noted that when she picked her store’s location a short distance from the highway, “I assumed that I had a right to the freedom of speech.”
The catch is, however, that Peachtree City’s sign regulations are notoriously strict. And had a person not been holding Sanders’ signs and they been put in the ground instead, they would have been taken up by the city for being illegal.
But until Thursday night, the handful of businesses using walking signs have gone unabated, though the noose began to tighten in recent months.
One resident at Thursday’s council meeting said she didn’t like the walking signs because they went against the spirit of what makes Peachtree City a nice place to live.
Joan Houghton, a 17-year resident, said she was “offended” by the presence of walking signs.
“I for one don’t want to look at those things,” Houghton said.
Sanders said she will have to fire the employee who had been holding her walking sign, and she didn’t want to because he’d had a hard time finding a job despite a college degree in information technology.
Sanders said she formerly operated a Subway store in Chicago where she was able to use a costumed mascot to help advertise the store. Her walking sign recently brought in a church order for $750 in sandwiches.
Houghton countered that Sanders chose to locate her restaurant in a location off the beaten path, so she shouldn’t be “asking the council to bail her out now that she is in this situation.”