In deference to the past and with an eye to the future, the Morristown Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday voted to allow large vertical signs to be mounted on the sides of buildings along the Main Street corridor, a proposed change that would impact only a handful of businesses.
Pre-skywalk photos of downtown Morristown show multiple side-mounted business signs, but the skywalks – in conjunction with the proposed size and mounting requirements – will be a limiting factor in where the signs can be located. The target zone is between Jackson and James streets.
City planners are recommending the signs be placed at least 7 feet, 6 inches above the ground or the skywalks. The proposed size requirements would allow signs with an area up to 32 square feet, but they must be mounted no more than 4 feet from the building, which eliminate the possibility of sizeable horizontal sides.
The skywalks are ceilings for most or all of street-level businesses, so the only businesses that could have the signs are on the skywalks, and even some second-story businesses could be out of the mix because the proposed rules prohibit signs protruding above the tops of building.
The sign-ordinance changes, which were supported by the Crossroads Downtown Partnership board, appeared on the radar after owners of 1907, a brew pub that’s yet to open, requested a side-mounted sign. The signs must be illuminated by Edison-style bulbs, external-mounted neon or backlit letters.
Planning commissioner Jack Kennerly cast the lone dissenting vote, arguing lighted signs would be an obstacle to second-story residences.
Also Tuesday, the Morristown Board of Zoning Appeals, which has overlapping membership with the planning commission, addressed Morristown’s first three approved non-owner-occupied, short-term rental homes – residences rented through agencies like Airbnb.
The houses are adjacent cottage-style homes on West Third North and Hickey streets near First Horizon Bank. The houses, which carry office, medial and professional zoning designations, can be rented for up to 30 days. The houses on West Third North have three bedrooms. The house on Hickey Street has two bedrooms.