Clayton puts sign plan to work

ndunn@newsobserver.comMay 5, 2014 

Marvel Management wants to add nameplates to this electronic sign on U.S. 70 Business near Moore Street.

NASH DUNN — ndunn@newsobserver.com

Clayton planners put their latest sign rules to use last week, recommending approval of a highway sign that could set a precedent for creative business owners.

Mike Marvel, of Marvel Management LLC, wants to add 16 square feet to a 24-square-foot electronic sign he owns on U.S. 70 Business. However, his sign, which advertises four businesses, is already as large as the town allows along the highway.

In years past, Marvel’s request would have met with a polite “no.” But he’s finding relief through new, more-flexible sign rules.

Town Planner Emily Beddingfield said the aim is to allow for creativity in sign design. As long as the Planning Board and Clayton Town Council give their blessing, owners can deviate from the written sign code, she said.

Marvel wants to add four static nameplates to the electronic sign, which promotes American Pride Car Wash, Temp Storage, Char-Grill restaurant and Meineke Car Care shop. The entire sign would be enclosed in brick, according to a rendering of the proposed sign.

When evaluating requests to deviate from Clayton’s sign rules, the planning staff will consider consistency with design codes, landscaping, public safety and compatibility with surrounding structures.

While the Planning Board unanimously supported Marvel’s request, board members recommended several additional requirements. One is that the sign include a landscaped bed and some form of architectural feature to add visual interest.

“For years, we always asked for signs ... with multi-tenant designation, instead of individual signs, and this sort of meets that criteria,” said Planning Board chairman Frank Price. “Especially if it has architectural features, I’m in favor of it.”

Marvel said the nameplates are needed to promote the four businesses, which have small road frontage across from the intersection of U.S. 70 Business and South Moore Street. He said the nameplates would make the sign more consistent with other multi-tenant signs along the highway.

“The big thing for us is that since the digital sign changes at 20 minutes, theoretically you are only getting your signage for one-fourth of the day,” Marvel said. “We all sort of felt that if we could have something similar to what’s in place at other shopping centers, it would enhance opportunities, because two of our businesses are two or three spaces back.”

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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