SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Main Street could become home to electronic signs. The issue was discussed at the last of the city’s electronic signage open houses Thursday.
WYO Theater Executive Director Erin Butler said an electronic sign would benefit the theater greatly. She said employees at the theater manually change the marquee almost daily and an electronic marquee would not only be less hassle, but also safer, especially during the winter months.
She said there are ways to mimic the classic marquee appearance with an electronic sign so that it’s not noticeable and showed an example of a historic theater in Florida that used that type of design.
“I would be a huge proponent just for our specific purpose,” Butler said. “But also…Sheridan doesn’t want to turn into like Vegas, which I don’t think would happen. But there’s always that fear.”
City Planning and Economic Development Director Robert Briggs said there are regulations the city would be able to put on electronic signs.
Those regulations could include limits on brightness, size and placement, but the city can’t regulate based on what type of establishment wants to use the signage.
“If we define a downtown district,” Briggs said, “whether they’re a restaurant or whether they’re a church in that downtown district, we need to treat them the same.”
Sheridan Travel and Tourism Executive Director Shawn Parker agreed electronic signs would work well for places like the WYO, but could become overwhelming if every establishment on Main Street had one.
“I’d love to see the WYO have one,” Parker said, “but at the same time I don’t want the WYO and The Mint to have one and then the year after everybody else on the street has one that minimizes the impact of those two incredibly important structures. It’s a really difficult question.”
But even if electronic signage is allowed downtown, Parker said, it doesn’t make sense for most businesses to take advantage of that type of signage because of their hours of operation.
“Outside of the WYO, The Mint, Frackelton’s and a couple other places, why are we advertising in the middle of the night when everything else is closed,” Parker said.
There was also discussion about signage near the interstate regarding size, placement and effectiveness.
Parker said with highway signs telling drivers what exit has food and gas, electronic signs aren’t needed. He also said placing them at the entrance to Sheridan doesn’t properly reflect the community.
“Where does it end, the gigantic signs, how big do they have to be,” Parker said. “…It’s not a good look for us.”
Larry Storo, who owns the McDonald’s on North Main Street, disagreed. He said he has nine digital billboards in Gillette that are not only cost effective but are also an effective way to communicate with consumers.
He also said around 1993 he put in a 100-foot high-rise sign for his business on North Main Street and business grew by about 25 percent. He said in the summer, 50 percent of his business comes from drivers pulling off the interstate and that consequently, his sign also helps to bring business to the rest of town.
“I truly believe that the more signage you have, the more effective you are in attracting customers into not only your business, but other businesses surrounding you,” Storo said.
Briggs said recommendations and a draft ordinance will be presented to the city planning commission on May 8 based on the feedback the city receives from the community.
“Whatever the council decides to ultimately adopt or not adopt, we want people to feel like they had an opportunity to weigh in,” Briggs said.