Macon to consider restrictions on convenience store windows

A proposed ordinance that would limit signs in Macon convenience store windows is scheduled for discussion this week at City Hall.

The ordinance is meant as a safety measure and to make sure police officers and others can see into the stores at night. It’s in direct response to a recent spate of violence that saw three people killed at Middle Georgia convenience stores.

The ordinance would require that at least 75 percent of a store’s front windows be clear and uncovered. The area where the cash register is located also would have to be visible from outside, according to the ordinance.

City police officers asked for the requirement, said Councilman Ed DeFore, who is sponsoring the measure.

Store owners had mixed opinions on the potential change. Some told The Telegraph it’s a great idea, but others said they think store windows should be uncluttered but that government shouldn’t mandate it.

Lou Patel, who helped found the Middle Georgia Asian American Business Community Association after this summer’s convenience store killings, called the proposed ordinance “awesome.” Taking down window signs was one of the Macon Police Department’s main recommendations to store owners after the shootings.

Those shootings led to an anti-violence rally that drew hundreds of Indian store owners to downtown Macon for a march. The association followed that up with a police department training session for store owners. Some stores have implemented changes since then, but Patel said he’s also seen a return to normalcy after a burst of interest in safety.

“You know how it is,” he said. “Everyone’s back in their own world.”

Council members were digesting the proposal last week, with Councilman Charles Jones saying he “totally” supports the ordinance and others wondering whether it would be better to simply suggest that owners make the change instead of mandating it.

“I really don’t like legislating that,” Councilwoman Elaine Lucas said.

Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen, who has been pushing the county government to require security cameras in stores in the unincorporated area, said he plans to fold DeFore’s advertising requirements into his own proposed rules.

The city of Macon already requires security cameras, though there’s an exception for stores with at least two people on duty.

DeFore’s ordinance is slated for discussion Tuesday during a 3 p.m. meeting of the council’s Public Safety Committee at City Hall.

Allen said he’ll bring his revised camera ordinance back before the commission this month.

To contact writer Travis Fain call 744-4213.