Smaller signs are now OK in WR

WARNER ROBINS — Tom DeLascio moved his Imports Only auto repair business back to its digs at 1541 Russell Parkway in July after a business deal with a local dealership backfired.

But he wasn’t able to erect a sign letting people know he was back.

The City Council voted recently to exclude small signs from a moratorium on all signs — from those for small businesses to billboards — that began June 1 after a Conyers billboard company challenged the constitutionality of the city’s sign regulation. It couldn’t come at a better time, DeLascio said.

“We have a digital sign, and it’s going to be very visible,” said DeLascio, 63, who has run the business mostly out of the Russell Parkway location since 1994. “Traffic backs up at Corder Road and Russell Parkway during the afternoon big-time. Those people waiting for the light to change are going to be able to see it.”

According to a May 22 letter to the city from Southern Advertising and Sign Erectors, the company had a client that wanted to place a billboard in Warner Robins. The idea was rejected because the client wanted to place it out of a permitted area. Warner Robins only allows billboards in industrial zones near Interstate 75.

Southern Advertising and Sign Erectors’ letter said speech restrictions and a permit requirement by the city violated First Amendment rights.

Kevin Weinz of Southern Advertising and Sign Erectors, whose company wrote the city challenging sign regulation wording, declined to comment.

City Clerk Stan Martin said City Attorney Jim Elliott has been working on the ordinance, but no votes have been made to change any portion of it.

No reason was given for why the moratorium has been lifted for the smaller signs.

And after nearly two months of waiting, DeLascio says his business will have to wait a few more weeks. His contact from Macon Signs, which will erect the digital sign, is out of the country.

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.