Fenton — Monday’s city council meeting saw a discussion briefly travel off of the charted territory and onto the topic of street side advertising. The detour occurred while officials discussed the consent agenda, which included the approval of a Precious Metals Dealer License for Genesee Valley Gold and Silver.
Councilwoman Cheryl King brought up the subject of similar businesses in the area that have employees perform street side advertising for the business. “They are always out by the road and not on the sidewalk or behind. It distracts a lot of people driving by, waving their hands,” she said. “They are right out by the road, right on the curb. It has me concerned.”
King asked if there was any way to approve the license somehow under the condition that the business would keep any employees doing street side advertising behind the sidewalk.
City attorney Steve Schultz said that it would not be an issue that could be addressed in that vote. “It is a zoning issue more than a licensing issue,” he said. “The license will have to be based on a standard ordinance.”
City Manager Lynn Markland said street side advertising is utilized by many different businesses in the area. “It is my understanding that the individuals who are doing it on the sidewalk area, it is covered under freedom of speech,” he said.
Schultz helped to clarify the issue. “It depends on the nature of the activity,” he said. “For example you will see some pizza places that will have people dressed up in costumes, and that is entirely permissible. It depends on what kind of banners and signs.”
Councilman Les Bland wasn’t as certain that the advertisers are distracting. “They do this all over Silver Parkway. To be very honest with you I go out there every single day, and it’s not a distraction to me. It might be a little irritating to me but it’s not a distraction,” Bland said. “I’ve never seen an accident caused by it.”
After the discussion, Mayor Sue Osborn asked Markland to speak with building and zoning administrator Brad Hissong to discuss what could or should be done about the issue.
The consent agenda, including the proposed Precious Metals Dealer License for Genesee Valley Gold and Silver, was unanimously approved.