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Pasco officials to work with builders on signs

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Pasco commissioners agreed to work with the Tampa Bay Builders Association to craft a revision to the sign ordinance that eliminates tattered feather banners from the county roadways without penalizing homebuilders.

The county’s zoning staff has recommended an outright ban on feather banners, also known as flutter flags, but several builders attended a public hearing Tuesday asking for a less restrictive option.

“We certainly don’t want to see blight and tattered signs,” said Jennifer Doerfel, executive vice president of the builders association. “We want the community to look great because that’s what attracts buyers to this community.”

Janice Snow, marketing director for Homes by WestBay, said the flags are like “little bread crumbs” that lead buyers to new hoouses. “It’s a great visual for people who aren’t familiar with the area,” she said.

Some commissioners questioned how effective the banners really are. “It looks ugly,” Commissioner Pat Mulieri said. “It’s hard for me to understand how a feather banner helps sell a house.”

Mike Southward, division president of Beazer Homes, said the banners are the only way some real estate agents can find their model centers. “A lot of these new communities aren’t on GPS yet,” he said.

Other communities accommodated homebuilders without allowing the unfettered proliferation of the flags on the roadways. Osceola County, for example, creates separate rules for builders that are less restrictive than commercial businesses, he said.

In neighboring Hernando County, businesses are allowed a maximum of three feather banners. Hillsborough’s sign ordinance permits an “unlimited number of flags” as long as those flags are included in the calculation of allowable sign space for each business.

Some business owners, such as auto dealer Larry Morgan, have suggested a compromise. They believe the flags can be attractive if they’re consistent and business owners replaced them several times a year. They want the county to regulate the banners instead of banning them altogether.

Doerfel said most homebuilders contract with a sign company to replace the flags on a regular basis, but she admits that isn’t an option for most small business owners.

And the county’s Code Enforcement director says the department doesn’t have enough staff to monitor feather banners. “Unfortunately, in our county, we don’t have the financial resources to be able to enforce a complicated sign ordinance,” Starkey said.

Commissioners will hold a second public hearing on July 22. In the meantime, staff agreed to work with the builders association to craft a policy everyone can agree on. Commissioner Henry Wilson insisted that small business owners be invited to participate, as well.

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