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Gwinnett to study expanding electronic message boards

Digital signs are rare in unincorporated Gwinnett, as they are only allowed on government property, like this one at Coolray Field. Commissioners voted this week to study its sign ordinance to consider digital signage on private property. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Digital signs are rare in unincorporated Gwinnett, as they are only allowed on government property, like this one at Coolray Field. Commissioners voted this week to study its sign ordinance to consider digital signage on private property. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

It is hard to miss the Arena at Gwinnett Center sign on Interstate 85.

Or the digital messages from the Gwinnett Braves’ beacon on Ga. Highway 20.

Those venues have little trouble getting out their messages.

But currently, digital message boards are only allowed on Gwinnett government property, including schools, in unincorporated Gwinnett.

On Tuesday, commissioners approved a study of the county’s sign ordinance to pave the way for the 21st century technology. But officials want to be cautious before bombarding residents and commuters with too many images.

“We need to look at catching up with technology,” Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “We need to do it in a rational, methodical way. … There’s a whole range of things we haven’t anticipated in our ordinance.”

With a moratorium on issuing permits until the study is complete in June, officials are taking a look at opening the option up to general public.

Gwinnett Planning and Development Director Bryan Lackey said the county has fielded inquiries about allowing digital signs since the arena’s sign was erected.

“This is just to take time to study it and find out how we want to put regulations on it,” Lackey said, adding that the study will also look at oversized signs, which mostly encompasses billboards but includes any sign more than 30 feet high or with a sign face more than 300 square feet. “We feel it’s time to update the sign ordinance.”