Aiken City Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance to amend the city's sidewalk-sale code. The council will look at a revised version at a later meeting, though.
The current ordinance allows sidewalk sales three times a year. Aiken Downtown Development Association has asked that the ordinance be amended to allow up to six sales annually.
At the council's Feb. 27 meeting, the city staff agreed to further modify the proposed ordinance to allow merchants flexibility in displaying outside signs and sales when the matter receives its second reading Monday.. The council also will discuss the revisions at a work session before that to receive input from downtown merchants.
City Manager Roger LeDuc said the staff will work on the ordinance so that shop owners will be able display merchandise outdoors other than during sidewalk sales.
Mr. LeDuc also said the city will establish a more concise definition of a temporary sign and set a minimum passageway in front of a store.
The issue arose after the city's Public Safety Department determined the city code did not clearly establish the type of displays allowed on public rights of way.
Councilman Don Wells, who owns Park Avenue Paints, said downtown merchants wanted the opportunity to have up to six sidewalk sales a year so they would not have to get permission from the city each time they wanted to have an additional sale.
"I can certainly see a need, and it's a good thing to let our merchants do this occasionally," Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said.
Councilwoman Jane Vaughters said the council should do what it can to help the merchants.
"People talk about how special downtown Aiken is, but downtown Aiken is not special without businesses in the business district," she said.
The city council also will discuss Monday the authority that various board and commission chairmen have in appointing volunteers to head task forces or subcommittees.
The council began discussing the issue at an earlier work session. The issue came up after Ed Woltz, the planning commission chairman, appointed a member to head a task force to develop an open-space plan, according to city documents.
Ed Giobbe, who is on the planning commission, told the council the appointment was made without input from other members.
Council attorney Gary Smith said he found nothing in the ordinances that allowed chairmen to make appointments without the approval of council.
Council members Dick Smith and Mrs. Vaughters and Mr. Cavanaugh said chairmen should discuss appointments with committee members beforehand. Mr. Wells and Councilman Don Sprawls said, though, that they thought a committee chairman should have the authority to appoint heads of a subcommittee.
In other business, the city council passed the first reading of a zoning ordinance, 6-1, to place tree-preservation conditions on single-family home construction in a commercial or multifamily zone. Mrs. Vaughters voted against the proposal.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or email@example.com.