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Proposed Clayton Signs Ordinance Raises Concerns Among Some Business Owners

They argued Thursday that the wording of the ordinance would prevent them from using sidewalk signs that can withstand strong winds.

A proposed Clayton ordinance falls short because it prevents business owners from using signs that can withstand strong winds, several retailers said. That, they said, decreases the amount of foot traffic they would get otherwise.

The comments came during a Thursday meeting of the Clayton Retail Group. It happened .

The proposed ordinance—a copy of which is attached to this article—states that business owners may use sidewalk signs, provided their frame is no wider than 25 inches and no taller than 38 inches. The Clayton Board of Aldermen is expected to review the issue at its meeting at 7 p.m. April 26.

"The issue is stability," said Marianne Prey, owner of Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation. She said her Carondelet Plaza-based business sits along a wind tunnel, meaning small signs get pushed around and pose a hazard to pedestrians.

A sign she owns doesn't fit the ordinance's criteria because it's 49 inches tall and sits on springs. She said she probably loses half a dozen customers a week without the sign. Business owners who work on Maryland Avenue and Clayton Road also indicated the wind is a concern for them.

"I know they're money-makers for us," said Carol Will, owner of Lola and Penelope's Pet Boutique and co-chair of the retail group. She said that while she thinks a majority of business owners are comfortable with the wording of the ordinance, those who have concerns should address the aldermen at their April meeting.

Ward I Alderman Judy Goodman and Ward II Alderman Cynthia Garnholz attended the meeting.

"We understand the sense of urgency," Goodman told the group.

Both said the feedback was helpful.

"It's our goal to permit the signs," Garnholz said.

Also discussed Thursday:

  • The city has introduced several new materials in the past several months designed to market the area, economic developer Gary Carter said. One is a long postcard that lists names of downtown restaurants, and another is a pamphlet that introduces readers to the city.
  • Shop Clayton Shops, a program that allows businesses to offer special deals one day each month, will return this year after going on hiatus in 2010. The deals will be available from participating businesses throughout the first Friday of each month from May through September. In the past, businesses have offered one of three deals: a gift provided with a purchase; 30 percent off of a specified type of item; or an opportunity to buy one item and get another free. Business owners at the meeting suggested several ways to get the word out, including social media and email blasts. Attendees appeared mixed on whether to move the event to Wednesdays in conjunction with Parties in the Park, which will be held along Meramec Avenue this year. While several retailers in attendance said that the initiative hasn't attracted people to their stores in the past, retailer group co-chairs Will and Drea Ranek urged them to give it another chance. "We're trying to get a lot more support from the city," Ranek said.
  • Deb Henderson, market master of the Clayton Farmers' Market, told business owners that she'll work with them to provide booth space throughout the year. The market opens May 7 and runs on Saturdays through Nov. 5. While businesses won't be able to engage in resale, they will have the opportunity to display their goods and hand out informational material, she said.

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