JP has new rules for electronic signs

After 18 months of debate, Jefferson Parish has a new ordinance to regulate electronic signs.

The law restricts the size and location of new electronic variable-message signs, bans animation and special effects and makes provisions for owners of existing signs to comply with some of the rules and legally ignore others.

The law grew out of a parish Planning Department study and negotiations with the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and the Civic League of East Jefferson.

The Parish Council approved the measure last Wednesday, with two changes to the original proposal.

Owners of existing electronic signs who don’t comply with the new size and location rules won’t have to alter the physical structures or move them unless they are at least 75 percent damaged by fire, storms or other calamities.

The “dwell time” — the period a single message must stay visible before a new message appears — will be 3 seconds for signs at businesses along major roads.

That’s half the time specified in the proposal written by the Planning Department and approved by the Planning Advisory Board, chamber and Civic League.

The dwell time on minor roads remains 6 seconds, on big highways 8 seconds.

Current sign owners have until July 1 to alter the electronic programming to comply with the bans on special effects, animation and dwell time.

“This is one of those issues that there’s no way everybody is going to be happy,” council Chairman Elton Lagasse said.

Civic League representatives applauded most of the final law.

Jefferson is seeking to shed its reputation for visual clutter.

“We can’t afford to backslide into a neon jungle,” league President Ralph Brandt said.