Hollifield spoke about the issue before the Franklin Board of Aldermen during Monday night’s board meeting. He said the town and the downtown merchants could benefit from having banners hung across the street to promote local events.
“It’s a very effective way to reach people who don’t pick up the papers or see our fliers,” he told the board, adding that using banners would also cut down on advertising expenses.
Hollifield said he knew there were some concerns about hanging banners across downtown Main Street, including concerns about insurance and liability.
He said the town’s insurance should be sufficient and most banners are made of lightweight, weatherproof mesh.
“I don’t see it as a hazard,” he said.
Aldermen expressed concern that hanging a 3-foot-by-20-foot banner across Main Street at the town hall might be a distraction.
“That’s fine, let’s put it at the first crosswalk,” Hollifield said.
Another concern is how to choose which event gets publicized if two events are happening on the same weekend. Hollifield said if two organizations want to advertise two different events, they could split the cost and have one on each end of the street.
“There’s a way to compromise without saying no,” he said.
Town Attorney John Henning Jr. said the town street and sidewalks ordinance prohibited the use of banners across the street unless approved by the town board. That language was later removed from the ordinance in 2013 and banners are no longer allowed. He said he didn’t want the town board to get into the position of having to regulate what language can and cannot be used on banners.
“If you want to allow it, it’s an easy change to the language, but I just don’t want the town deciding what the banners can say,” Henning said, adding that it could become a First Amendment issue.
He said he would like it to be allowed under the sign ordinance so that it wouldn’t have to come before the board each time a banner wanted to go up.
Mayor Bob Scott suggested Hollifield form a committee to discuss the issue and come up with a plan to allow banners.
“We have a lot of people here interested in the banners so I’m sure they’ve be willing to serve,” he said.
Hollifield said he would form a committee to form a plan and bring it back to the town board for approval.