City areas fail to meet state signage standards

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Elizabethton's Covered Bridge and Sycamore Shoals State Park may represent the cradle of democracy, but they don't rate historic signage along Interstate I-181.
   In a letter to state Sen. Dewey "Rusty" Crowe provided to Elizabethton City Council members, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald F. Nicely writes that the city would not qualify for brown supplemental signs denoting historic districts or memorial sites.
   "To qualify for the brown historic signing, a historic site must be located within five (5) miles of an interchange and have an annual attendance of 200,000 visitors," Nicely writes. Mayor pro tem Samuel Shipley had requested the historic brown signs be put up at Exit 31 on I-181 advertising "Historic Downtown Elizabethton" with sub-signage reading "Historic Covered Bridge" and "Veterans' War Memorial".
   Nicely writes that historic districts and memorial parks are not eligible for historic signage. A historic site such as the Covered Bridge may quality if it meets the eligibility criteria cited by Nicely.
   The City Council will consider at Thursday's monthly meeting a resolution appropriating $22,375 to install guard rails along a busy city street and a curvy state highway located inside the city limits.
   The city awarded the project to Highway Markings, Inc. of Knoxville to install guardrails on a portion of Gap Creek Road as well as West G Street. The award came after a bid process reviewed by the project's engineering firm of Mattern & Craig of Johnson City.
   The state awarded the city a grant of up to $50,000 to place guard rails on city streets and state highways located inside the corporate limits.
   The City Council will also consider on second reading an ordinance granting the city's Board of Zoning Appeals board authority to hear appeals from property owners regarding driveway and street curb cuts. Curb cut and driveway requests considered by the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission currently cannot be appealed by property owners.
   The second reading also offers a public hearing for citizens to voice their opinions about the ordinance.