City Council likely to limit electronic variable message signs to Central Park, Celebrate Virginia | Fredericksburg

Some say they’re a distraction; others say they’re the wave of the future.

Either way, the Fredericksburg City Council isn’t likely to allow controversial electronic variable messaging, or EVM, signs anywhere but in planned development-commercial districts. Currently, only Central Park and Celebrate Virginia South have that zoning designation.

Council members spent about a half-hour after a public hearing at its meeting Tuesday discussing the latest draft of proposed changes to its sign ordinance, which covers EVM signs. It called for allowing them in commercial highway, commercial shopping, planned development-commercial district and industrial zones. That would include the shopping centers along state routes 1 and 3.

Gary Knuckles, a lawyer representing the largest owner of commercial property in Central Park, asked during the hearing that the draft be changed to allow businesses in the PD-C districts to show electronic variable messages covering up to 50 percent of the maximum size allowed for a sign. The draft allowed 40 percent. Increasing the percentage would better enable Rappaport to compete for tenants with Spotsylvania Towne Centre, which does not have a similar restriction.

“We think that, given this large commercial footprint, it’s reasonable to permit more flexibility in electronic signage,” he said. “It would help and could result in fewer signs as the property owner tries to meet demand for this type of signage.”

Knuckles said another option would be to combine the increase with a special-use permit “to provide a little more flexibility to deal with this coming tech as it changes in the future.”

Council Member Billy Withers said after the hearing that he didn’t think EVM signs fit in most of the city’s districts and moved to limit them to PD-C zones only.

Fellow Council Member Matt…

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