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City continues sign ordinance moritorium
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After hearing from a sign ordinance review committee last week, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and the City Council extended a sign ordinance moratorium until Oct. 2, instead of allowing it to expire Sept. 11, as originally planned. 
The 120-day suspension on temporary sign placement on right-of-ways went into effect in May when the Hinesville Board of Realtors spoke before council.
Realtors were concerned the removal of their open house signs by city inspectors would hurt business.
Thomas and the council agreed to issue the freeze on sign enforcement and appoint a review committee to evaluate the ordinance and make revisions.
The committee appealed to the council last week for an extension to finish their review and make a full presentation at the Oct. 2 council meeting.
The review process includes hosting a public input meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 16, and 5 p.m. Sept. 17, in the city hall council room.
Allen Brown and George Holtzman are co-chairing the committee, which has met at least 10 times since its creation in April.
"We thoroughly went through the ordinance and we were pleased to find there weren't a lot changes that we felt like needed to be made," Brown said. "But there were a handful of changes that we were recommending."
The panel wants to open the floor and allow community members to voice concerns or make suggestions.
Brown anticipates a lot of concerned opinions on a couple issues.
"It seems to me that the set-back requirement and ability to ask for appeal," Brown said.
The current general set-back for permanent signs has been 15 feet, but the committee is pushing for a change to 10 feet. They would also like to see no set-back requirement for temporary signs on undeveloped commercial property.
He was pleased with how the committee handled the review task, calling member "very sincere about trying to address issues."
"They were pretty well attended," Brown said of the committee meetings. "People (Members) were very conscientious."
In other business, council approved a special permit use for Hinesville Towing to relocate on Memorial Drive.
The property was in a general commercial district, which required the special permit since that type of business use is not allowed.
The project also was not in compliance with the Downtown Overly District Ordinance.
But the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission recommended permit approval to council, upon special conditions being met.
Steve Troha, property owner leasing to Hinesville Towing, spoke in favor of the special permit at the public hearing and said, "we are ready to cooperate with the Downtown Development (Authority)."
The very last phase of the Memorial Drive Redevelopment Project is connecting Memorial Drive and Welborn Street. It would make Troha's property a block away from the new Memorial Drive.
"This is a temporary request," Troha said. "We realize the impact this has on the city, the downtown overlay district, allows us an actual recovery on some investment that we made on that property."
In addition to meeting the set requirements for a vehicle-storage facility, The LCPC mentioned suggested ways the property would be "opaquely buffered and blinded," with a hedge to lessen the impact of the business on the area, as required in the ordinance.
No one spoke in opposition during the public hearing.
However, since then, Hinesville Towing has withdrawn its request to relocate.
Troha said he will lease to any other business that may show interest.
Mayor and council will have a budget workshop Sept. 15 and Sept. 17 to discuss next fiscal year's budget.

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