Business owners plan to visit WJ Aldermen meeting

James HowellStaff

February 27, 2013

The West Jefferson Town Aldermen meeting this Monday will address two issues that have generated interest in the community: the location of the “Olde Time Antiques Fair” and a new proposed sign ordinance.

During a January meeting, the West Jefferson Town Aldermen decided to rescind the town’s approval to hold the fair on West Jefferson’s Main Street (from Jefferson Avenue to Badger Funeral Home). In response to the aldermen’s decision, several West Jefferson business owners plan on attending the alderman’s meeting this Monday, according to Keith Woodie, the owner of Antiques on Main.

“I just hope we get this settled,” said Woodie. “I want the aldermen to see we are trying to help businesses and not hurt them.”

The main issue with having the fair on Main Street is two businesses, Parker Tie Company and the Parkway Theater, were concerned event parking would prevent customers from accessing their businesses.

During the meeting with the West Jefferson Business Association, Woodie proposed the alternate location of Jefferson Avenue, which might appease the two businesses who object to the fair on Main Street.

However, Woodie and West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin agreed the Main Street location is a better choice.

“From here to Badger Funeral Home is the place to have it,” said Baldwin.

To hold the fair on Jefferson Avenue, the N.C. Department of Transportation would have to approve closing down the road temporarily. According to Baldwin, the DOT did give the “okay” to close down the road earlier that morning.

“I’d rather it be on a street that’s owned by the town,” said Woodie.

Holding the fair on the Main Street location would allow the fair to “connect” to the Art on the Mountain event held at the Ashe Arts Council during the same weekend, the third in September.

Also, Baldwin and Woodie both said Main Street is a good location because the road is 80 feet wide, allowing vendors to set up in the middle of the road and allowing visitors to move along the road side, placing them closer to local businesses.

Businesses that would benefit from the Main Street location, like the Honey Hole and the Artist Theater, are now upset by the recension of the fair’s location.

“I will be there front and center,” said Shelley Felder, the owner of the Honey Hole in West Jefferson. Felder said she had a nice boom in business from last year’s antiques fair, and wants the same thing to happen again this year.

Felder is also interested in Monday’s meeting because of the recent sign ordinance that has been proposed for the Town of West Jefferson. Felder uses temporary signage to drive customers to her business, which may be regulated by the new ordinance.

“Collectively, too many signs, or poorly maintained signs, can harm the overall economic vitality of the town,” read the sign ordinance drafted on Dec. 4.

The purpose of the sign ordinance is:

  • To provide uniform sign standards that promote the culture, the history, and the beauty of the town.
  • To provide uniform sign standards that allow each business to effectively identify its location to customers, as well as the goods and/or services it provides.
  • To balance the individual interests of a business to effective signage the the governmental interest of promoting the economic vitality of the town as a whole.

According to the sign ordinance, no new billboards can be erected within the zoning jurisdiction of the Town of West Jefferson, and no signs can contain flashing/animated lights or moving parts. Also, the sign ordinance regulates the maintenance of signs, temporary signs and “obsolete signs.”

Certain signs can be exempt from the regulations mentioned in the sign ordinance, such as church signs, for rent or for sale signs, governmental signs, no trespassing signs, welcome signs, traffic directional signs, and political signs.

Also, any sign erected before Jan. 1, 1980, is considered a historic sign and is exempt from the new regulations.