MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - A Madison sign ordinance designed for safety and aesthetics, may also be hurting its farmers market.
The ordinance prohibits signs from being put in the city right of way (where utility lines and/or pipes are located).
Organizer Mary Stallings said it forces the market to move its signage 40 feet away from the road, costing it potential customers.
“Our crowds are dramatically down, which we believe is due to that we’re not grabbing people’s attention from the roadway," she said.
The city did put in place a permanent sign across the street, but Stallings said its size and location don’t get the job done.
“They don’t see us until they’re past the driveway to turn in. Most people will go on," she said.
Strawberry farmer Steve Talley said his sales are down 30 percent this year due to the signs.
“When part of our business is taken away on something that’s simple, all we have to do is move flags closer to the road for a few and then take them down, and they won’t let us do it,” Talley said.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley said the market can’t get special treatment.
“The ordinance has been in place for years. What we’ve simply had to do is enforce it because of the number of signs that were out there. It was a safety issue. It was a aesthetic issue,” said Finley.
Finley said rain is also a likely cause of the reduced crowds. WAFF 48 Meteorologist Eric Burke confirmed there has been measurable rainfall 3 of the last 5 Saturdays.
“Farmers markets are great things to have and we want as many people to know about it as we can, but I don’t think moving signs back 15 feet are the contributing factor, I think it’s more weather, and hopefully things will change in the weeks to come," said Finley.
Finley says he doesn’t expect to see an exception for the market but says the city will work to promote it better.
The market is held 8am to 12pm every Saturday on Hughes road.n