Task force unveils suggested changes to downtown Johnson City business sign laws

JOHNSON CITY,TN (WJHL) – On Tuesday night a new plan was unveiled to help resolve a long-time conflict in the heart of one of the tri-cities’ down-towns.A Johnson City appointed a task force to develop some clear rules and those rules debuted at a meeting tonight of the Johnson City planning commission.

The debate over wether painted murals on downtown business classify as over large signs has raged on for more than a year now.

Still Dick Nelson owner of Nelson Fine Art, isn’t budging. On Tuesday night a special task force presented sign regulation revisions for downtown business- a change city leaders are hoping is for the better.

“I don’t intend to take it down,” Dick Nelson said.

Some of those suggested changes would include expanding wall signs from one square foot to two square foot. Another suggested change would be to allow sandwich board signs a maximum are of six square feet.

Window signs would expand from 20 percent to 25 percent of the surface of any window- and in an attempt to end the debate on murals versus signs- new definitions have been drawn up.

Dick Nelson isn’t buying into the new changes.

“Wether they raise the sign size by one foot or two feet or whatever it doesn’t, it still makes us just like every other downtown,” Nelson said.

The changes don’t directly solve Dick’s problem, still his mural would classify as a sign because it says the name of his business and even with the proposed changes to store signs Dick’s sign is still too big.

“If I had done this to be a sign i would have used a graphic that was readable,” Nelson said.

For now nelson and other downtown business owners cited by the city will have to wait until December, the next time these changes will go before planning commission.

Until then nelson says he and others in the community will continue to enjoy what he considers a work of art.

“Its an important part of downtown,” Nelson said.

If the planning county votes to recommend those proposed changes they will then go to the County Commissioners for final approval.

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