Bus Tour

An overly restrictive sign code is keeping some Gilbert businesses from getting noticed and attracting new customers, owners told town officials during a small-business bus tour Thursday morning.

Town Council members and high-ranking administrators joined the Gilbert Small Business Alliance in visiting several companies to hear their challenges and success stories.

Sign regulations quickly emerged as the dominant issue for the businesses, which included a gas station, property management group, an optometrist and a chiropractor.

Over the past several months, Gilbert officials have worked with businesses in a "stakeholders group" to rewrite much of the town's sign code. The proposed changes go before the council for possible approval next week.

The group included representatives of the Alliance, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, International Sign Association and others. They met eight times and produced a set of amendments intended to make the code "less onerous" for businesses, according to a town staff report.

But the proposed changes won't resolve some of the concerns officials heard during the Alliance bus tour.

Many of the businesses are tucked away in shopping centers and suffer from visibility problems, owners said. They called on town officials to loosen certain sign regulations to give them greater flexibility in marketing themselves.

Houston-based real-estate company Whitestone REIT in July bought Gilbert Tuscany Village, a shopping center on the northeastern corner of Higley and Guadalupe roads. The retail center is home to Rancho de Tia Rosa restaurant and Salon Di Bella but remains mostly vacant.

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