BOMA votes to allow larger billboard in the city

The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved Nov. 3 an ordinance that modifies current restrictions to allow larger billboards in certain commercial zones.C3 zoning restricted the size of billboards to 72 square feet. The new ordinance will allow 675 square-foot billboards.

Under zoning restrictions, billboards are allowed only in C2 and C3 areas. The ordinance change will consolidate the size specifications allowed in the zones.

Currently C3 zoning restricts the size of billboards to 72 square feet and billboards in C3 zones are limited to 675 square feet. The change will allow billboards up to 675 square feet in both zones under certain restrictions. Billboards are not allowed in areas zoned C1, near the square. 

Alderman Bill Nickels was the only board member opposing the ordinance.

The approved ordinance will allow billboards with maximum display area of 675 square feet within any commercial or industrial district, excluding C-1 Central Business District.

“The C-1 Central Business District zoning is the area around the Manchester square,” said Manchester Codes and Safety Director Jamie Sain.

Most of the rest of the land along the highways is zoned C-2 or C-3, with some residential zoning mixed in, according to Sain.

The new ordinance would allow for several billboards to be installed.

“With the extra requirements including 150 ft. distance to residentially-zoned property and 150 ft. to any on-site freestanding sign, it really cuts down on the areas that billboards can be placed in the main part of town,” Sain said. “Approximately three or four signs can be placed on Highway 55 in the city limits, approximately two on Highway 53, and approximately two on Highway 41. Most of these areas would be on the outskirts of the city limits.”

The Planning Commission asked for a sign subcommittee to be formed and review the off-site advertising requirements, according to Sain.

The sign subcommittee that was formed includes one alderman, one Planning Commission member and three citizens, according to Sain.

“The subcommittee will be reviewing the entire sign ordinance, but the first item reviewed was the off-site advertising requirements,” Sain said. “These were reviewed for four meetings and the requirements for adjacent cities were reviewed during the process including: Tullahoma, McMinnville, Shelbyville, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Nashville.

“In the original ordinance, the off-site advertisement requirements broke down different requirements for the C-2 Highway Service District zoning along the interstate and C-3 General Commercial District zoning that covers most of the remaining commercial areas along the highway, not adjacent to the interstate. A majority of the sign subcommittee thought it would be best to simplify the requirements and have the same requirements for C-2 and C-3 districts.”

The ordinance approved Nov. 3 was sent with a positive recommendation with a majority vote from the sign subcommittee to the Planning Commission. The proposed ordinance was then reviewed by the Planning Commission, said Sain.

 “The Planning Commission then sent it with a positive recommendation to the BOMA,” Sain said.

Alderman Bill Nickels, who served on the Planning Commission until September, voted against the ordinance, saying the discussion for allowing this ordinance is partially the reason he resigned from the committee.

“We are giving Manchester away 15 feet at a time on the planning commission right now,” Nickels said. “It happens over and over and over, and that’s why I’m not on the planning commission – I’m not going to be part of it.”

Mayor Marilyn Howard, Alderman Mark Messick, Gary Trail, Mark Williams, David Pennington, Linda Bryan, and Steve Jernigan serve as members of the Manchester Planning Commission.