Business owners voice concerns to city

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters speaks to about 75 city business owners during a Jan. 22 Business Alliance meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

About 75 Pelham business owners shared their thoughts on topics ranging from the city’s sign ordinance to a citywide smoking ban during the first Pelham Business Alliance meeting on Jan. 22 at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters and City Councilman Ron Scott said they organized the meeting to seek feedback from Pelham business owners, and to address what Waters said is a “huge disconnect between those who live in Pelham and those who do business in Pelham.”

“We need to know what Pelham is doing well and what, from a business standpoint, we’re not doing well. And we need to hear it from you,” Waters said, noting the city is conducting a “comprehensive review” of all Pelham ordinances.

Scott said Pelham must work to support its existing businesses while recruiting new businesses to the city.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t protect what we already have,” Scott said, adding the city is working to compile a directory of every Pelham business. “I think your City Council and mayor will be dedicated to making sure there is a city environment that does not deter your ability to do business.”

During the meeting, business owners encouraged the city officials to give preference to local companies when awarding bids for projects, and encouraged the city to loosen its sign ordinances.

Troy Crocker, the president of the Pelham-based Sign Faces company, encouraged the city to remove or repair deteriorating signs and signs advertising businesses no longer in the city.

“First impressions mean a lot to most people,” Crocker said. “Maintenance of properties would take us a long way.”

Trinity Crossfit owner Sharon Smith asked the city to negotiate with the publisher of the city’s newsletter to give Pelham businesses priority on print advertisements. Other business owners asked the city to review codes requiring a firewall to separate businesses occupying the same building and requiring two bathrooms per business space.

Waters said the city will be asking for business owners’ opinions on a citywide smoking ban.

“Personally, I’m opposed to it,” Waters said of the smoking ban. “But that’s something we’ve got to get your input on. If you don’t tell us, we can’t fix it.”

During the meeting, Waters wrote the business owners’ suggestions on an “action register,” and said city government will keep the suggestions for future reference.

“I would like to have these meetings once a quarter at a minimum,” Waters said. “I think we’ve been productive today.”