Two Laurens business operators appeared before City Council last night asking for modification of a City Ordinance regarding the Displays of Merchandise. Robin Todd of the Green Door consignment store asked council for some “common sense understanding” and a “way to work around state regulations.” He said that putting eye-catching things out in front of the store brings people into the Green Door.
Deana Sellars of 2 Blondes Savy Consignment talked about the growth that store has had in its first year, due to signs and displays on the sidewalk. She indicated that strict enforcement of the “Display of Merchandise” ordinance would cause her to loose business and eventually close the store.
Mayor Sharon Brownlee noted that city ordinance has prohibited putting certain signs and merchandise on the sidewalk since at least as far back as 1966, and said that state law does as well.
City Building and Zoning Director Clay Rykard read legislation prohibiting such displays. Robin Todd said that the state law was vague in the definition of a sidewalk, and he thinks there’s room there for some modification of enforcement using “common sense.” Todd noted at one place in front of the Green Door he has 9 ½ feet between the store and street, leaving room for people to walk and him to display merchandise.
City Attorney Tommy Thompson suggested a way to resolve the matter would be to leave the language in the city ordinance as it is, but to add language that enforcement against use of sidewalks “may be waived by the Building Inspector for good cause, provided it does not impede people on foot or interfere with traffic coming down the road.” Thompson said the city needed business activity.
Discussion involving the Mayor and Council indicated a desire to have Thompson draft such a proposed ordinance for Council to consider.
Members expressed a desire to help stores stimulate business in the city.
Some discussion indicated that the Building Inspector may be directed to consider exemption for stores that are right on the sidewalk, and have no lawn out front for display. There was some discussion of possible minimum width of sidewalk to maintain for people walking by, including room for people in wheel chairs to safely pass.
Final resolution awaits the city attorney making a recommendation to City Council.