Sugar Hill OKs revised sign ordinance for safety

SUGAR HILL -- The Sugar Hill City Council at its monthly meeting Monday voted to approve a revised sign ordinance it considers essential to traffic safety.

Illuminated signs' dynamic displays and their movement of text and graphics became an issue late last year, when increasingly complex questions arose in the sign application review process. Nearly six months of revisions were needed to address size and location of temporary and permanent signs, and importantly, the brightness of illuminated signs, particularly those that revolve or are dynamic.

Specifically, the ordinance prohibits scrolling text and requires text be static for 20-second intervals to minimize distraction to motorists. The brightness of illuminated signs was limited, and their placement was prohibited within 100 feet of single-family residences.

"What we came up with was a pretty robust set of changes to the ordinance," said Kaipo Awana, Sugar Hill's director of planning and development.

The council also:

* Voted to allow City Hall to share driver's license information, including photo and address identification, with law enforcement. Social security numbers and other more personal information, however, will not be shared.

* Announced plans to pass its 2011 millage rate at its monthly meeting June 14. For the eighth consecutive year, the city plans no increase to its rate of 3.80 mills, despite three consecutive years of flat or declining tax digest. City Manager Bob Hail said Sugar Hill has lost more than 200 acres to parks, schools and churches, which don't pay taxes.

* Announced that, as part of its 18-acre expansion and renovation of E.E. Robinson Park, trees have been cleared along Level Creek Road for three new T-ball fields and conversion of the park's soccer field into other baseball diamonds. Trees close to Sugar Hill Elementary were cleared for grading of a professional size diamond.

* Beginning Tuesday, and monthly thereafter, the council will add an additional public meeting to its usual work session and public meeting on the first and second Mondays each month, respectively. Mayor Gary Pirkle said the extra meeting is planned for at least three or four months to make decisions about the planned $14 million downtown development of West Broad Street, including its $8.5 million city hall.

Having recently chosen a general look for the planned three-story, 30,000-square-foot hall, the council wants to stream ideas to architect Precision Planning as the city awaits applications for a construction manager. Hail said schematic design by Precision would allow construction managers to submit more precise cost proposals.