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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 02/15/2011

Loudoun supervisors approve amended sign ordinance

By Caitlin Gibson

After years of discussion and debate, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve proposed amendments to the county's sign ordinance that aim to encourage the growth and competitive ability of local businesses.

The approved amendments will simplify the existing regulations, allowing certain signs to be erected without review and streamlining the process for sign exceptions that require special approval. The county's prohibition of billboards and other temporary roadside signs will remain intact.

The amendments, which take effect March 1, also include related amendments to the schedule of fees for land development applications and the addition of standards for directional signs used for religious and civic purposes.

The Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and members of the business community have long complained about the complexity and inflexibility of the county's signage regulations, appealing to the board to fix the county's restrictive rules governing the size, use and placement of commercial signs.

Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said that she was pleased to see the issue finally come to a resolution.

"My work here is done. It's only taken eight years," she said. "This was one of the first things that I heard from the business community when I first became a supervisor."

Waters said the proposed amendments struck the right balance between addressing the concerns of the business community while maintaining the county's standards in terms of appearance.

"We want businesses to come here; we want this to be a business-friendly community, but we want it to be an overall good-looking community," she said.

Several of her fellow supervisors echoed her approval.

"This is a very uplifting moment," said Stevens Miller (D-Dulles). "It's long, long overdue."

Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac) agreed. "I'm very hopeful that this is going to be good for our community and good for business, and I'm happy to support it today," she said.

Supervisor James Burton (I-Blue Ridge) cast the lone opposing vote after proposing a failed motion to remove a regulation pertaining to digital signs from the ordinance.

According to the amended ordinance, applications for the display of an electronic or digital sign would be subject to a special exception process requiring board approval.

However, Burton said he was concerned that requests to use such signs would likely be approved.

"I can see sections of the county changing to resemble the entrance into Winchester," he said. "I think these things are going to become an eyesore, and we will regret having permitted them."

In a statement Tuesday, Loudoun Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard applauded the long-sought revision of the ordinance.

"With these adopted amendments, the Board of Supervisors has made it easier for Loudoun's businesses to create the jobs, tax revenue and economic opportunities that are so important to our overall quality of life," Howard said.

By Caitlin Gibson  | February 15, 2011; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Caitlin Gibson, Loudoun County  
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