The Lanier Charter Career Academy is facing a temporary setback in placing a high definition sign on its property to publicize events and public safety alerts.
The Hall County Board of Education asked Gainesville's planning and appeals board Tuesday for an exception to the city's message board color requirement, which only allows amber LED signs. The planning board voted unanimously against the request.
"I have real reservations here. If we approve a variance, there is supposed to be a hardship involved," said Dean Dadisman, chair of the planning and appeals board. "If we approve this sign, it would pretty much destroy the regulations that the (Gainesville) City Council has imposed. It would be difficult for us to refuse anyone else requesting the same sort of sign."
The full-color sign, proposed to sit along Atlanta Highway, corresponds with the new digital marketing program offered at the career academy, which gives students the opportunity to use up-to-date marketing tools to learn marketing schemes and industry standards. It would advertise public events, AMBER alerts and other public safety concerns.
"This sign is the industry standard and is similar to the ones used at Hartsfield-Jackson (Atlanta International) Airport. There's not an amber option for it, so we won't have a sign if this isn't approved," said Aaron Turpin, Hall County Schools' executive director for technology.
"The software comes from state charter grant money, and it teaches our 21st century students. No one is doing amber signs anymore, and we can't go back and buy additional software."
Last February, the planning and appeals board denied a request by RaceTrac gas station to install a red and green sign to display gas prices. In December 2002, the board also restricted Walgreens on South Enota Drive from changing its sign from amber to red lighting.
When the code was last updated, several signs around Gainesville, including the Georgia Mountains Center marquee, were allowed to keep red lights.
"Rather than bring this request before this board, maybe it would be appropriate to take this to City Council and ask the code to be changed," said John Snyder, a planning board member. "These type of signs have come out in the past few years, and maybe the code needs to be changed and updated to allow this."
Council members George Wangemann and Bob Hamrick attended Tuesday's planning meeting and were willing to hear the proposal.
"We'll research how other municipalities are dealing with this because I think we will be seeing more and more of this," said planning director Rusty Ligon.
"Then we can present it to the council at one of their upcoming work sessions."