It’s a good thing our family recently purchased a Garmin GPS device.
I’ll credit my wife Dayna for the purchase. GPS has eliminated most of the stress that comes with driving in unfamilar territory.
They help when you need to find a gas station or when you’re hungry for a donut and a cup of coffee.
In fact, if we didn’t have the device Wednesday afternoon there would be no way we would have found Tim Horton’s donut shop in New Albany, Ohio.
“Turn left and drive two-tenths of a mile, Tim Horton’s is on left,” the global positioning system device said. Having been down the street a day earlier, Dayna defied me to find the donut shop without the assistance of GPS.
And I’ll tell you, it was pretty difficult.
It was truly the commericial corridor with invisible signs. There were fast food restaurants, offices, and a grocery story, but not a single sign over about four or five feet.
It’s no contest. New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, wins the national championship for least visible signs. If not, they’re right up there with Scottsdale and Highland Park.
About eight years ago, the Normal Town Council revisited the community’s sign ordinance. We were looking to balance a motorist’s need to find businesses and a businesses’ need to be found with a strong desire to improve the community aesthetic. Staff discovered the International Sign Code, and we adapted and adopted major portions of it for Normal.
Essentially, the International code trades sign height for more square footage of sign frontage for a business and created an incentive for more sign square footage for using monument style signs.
My recollection was that it was a 5-2 vote.
At the time, I thought we needed different rules for Veteran’s Parkway, but that idea was voted down 4-3.
We agreed on a “carve out” for taller signs the area along a portion of Main Street near I-55/74/39. Non-conforming signs would be amortized. Purple gorillas and other temporary signs are restricted to 84 days per year.
I think by and large the council got it right.
We applied common sense and resisted the tempation to create a community with invisible signs. As electronic signs have improved, we have not stood in the way. Businesses have been able to live with the changes. And I think the new rules have improved the look of the community.
Next time someone suggests that because we have navigation devices we ought to do away with signs, I’ll suggest they visit a certain Ohio community and see if they can find a blueberry donut without GPS.