Electric signs start big debate among Edmond residents

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EDMOND, Okla. – Lights flash, signs scroll on our pharmacies, fast food chains, even churches, telling us what to want, but do we notice anymore?

“It’s distracting,” said Cathy McCreary.

She sees them. “It’s visual pollution,” said McCreary.

That’s why three former Edmond mayors, Saundra Naifeh, Randal Shadid and Dan O’Neil, are petitioning to reverse a city council decision that allows electric signs in Edmond.

“We don’t always agree on things,” said Naifeh. “We do agree on this.”

Signs have been a touchy subject in Edmond for 30 years now.
Some wanted to keep Edmond known as “Tree City”.

“Less advertisement and more trees,” said McCreary.

However, this ordinance, passed in Jan., allows the fancy electronic ads, to an Edmond extent.

Unlike other cities, Edmond electronic signs can’t have animation. businesses can only display text. That text can only change every 30 seconds. The rules aim to avoid distracted driving.

Signs drivers are used to seeing in Oklahoma City change in as little as 10 seconds.

MORE: Edmond electronic sign ordinance

“I think they’re unsafe,” said McCreary. “I’ve experienced that personally on Interstate 35.”

“It would depend on where it is in the commercial area. You expect to see some signs,” said Rey Dove.

Voters are at odds, but police aren’t. In cities used to moving ads like Oklahoma City and Norman, police say there’s no documented proof that signs cause wrecks.

Although, they admit the police reports only specify if a driver was distracted when they wrecked. Police don’t note how the driver was distracted.

While safety of the signs is under debate, business owners say they do believe electric signs could help sales.

“As a business person, if I want to put one up, I feel I should have the rights to put it up,” said Kelly Van Osdol, owner of Framin’ Gallery.

The trio of former mayors aren’t buying it.

“I think it’s difficult to really believe that it’s a money-maker,” said Naifeh. “We, in addition, are 18 percent over our sales tax income already this year on our budget.”

Councilman Nick Massey wrote the electronic signs ordinance.

“It is quite disappointing that three former Edmond mayors have chosen to file an initiative to repeal the recently passed EMC sign ordinance,” said Massey.

He says there were two public workshops in which opinions were expressed by all sides. “I think the ordinance passed by the city council was a fair compromise that represented some, but not all, of what everybody wanted,” said Massey.

The former mayors have 90 days to collect 650 voter signatures. If they collect enough, the question about the signs will go on a ballot, and voters can decide what they want.


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