Are Chesterfield businesses breaking the law with ad strategies?

Posted at 7:17 PM, May 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-04 07:09:17-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – After dozens of complaints about how some businesses in Chesterfield are advertising, planning commissioners are talking about changes.

In fact, the commissioners want to make it clear that advertising banners and signs hanging outside shops and placed along highways are only to be used for specific events like special sales, hiring and recruitment periods -- or for new businesses that have yet to install permanent signs.

Zach Shepherd, who has a banner hanging outside of her personal laundry service, is not too keen about proposed changes supervisors could make to the existing ordinance.

“I understand the need to police signage because I know it can get overwhelming… But I’m not sure it’s for every small business,” said Shepherd. “And if you want to restrict us, you drive us out – and drive the business out of Chesterfield.”

Planning manager Greg Allen said citizen complaints about companies violating the current banner ordinance prompted planning commissioners to propose changes.

Some were concerned about aesthetics and said too many banners make roadways look cluttered.

“If we have citizens out there who are proactively trying to find every possible violation, then we need to look at how can our regulations can better fit the needs of those users,” Allen said.

The proposed changes include allowing businesses to display banners for 120 days per year--the same as non-profits are now allowed to do. The changes would also include cracking down on violators and forcing them to comply within 24 hours instead of the current 10 days -- and reducing the size of free-standing banners from 50 to 32 square feet.

"If a person is a multiple violator, constantly doing it, then our director can establish that that person or business cannot have any banners for up to the next year,” Allen said.

Commissioners said their goal is to bring about compromise and urge business owners to provide feedback at the next public hearing.

The board of supervisors will hear comments at a May 22 hearing and could vote on the issue that night.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for updates on this story.